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Lamb National event forced to cancel after online abuse

Organisers of a popular community carnival have been forced to cancel a planned lamb race over safety fears of its volunteers following a backlash from animal rights activists.

The "Lamb National", which has taken part in shows across England, had been booked for Barton Carnival in June.

Ben Troop, who organises the event in Lincolnshire, said the committee had been branded "animal abusers" online.

Mr Troop told the local BBC: "We got a backlash - lots and lots of messages speaking out against this [the race].

"Some messages were getting quite personal."

The Countryside Alliance has, however, hit back at those targeting the carnival organisers with abuse, arguing that many animal rights activists “have little to no understanding of animal welfare”.

According to Mr Troop, most of the negative comments posted on its social media channels came from outside Barton. The lambs' owner explained the sheep in question were Herdwicks, a breed with a natural ability to jump. He added their welfare is paramount, adding they are not slaughtered and enjoy a good, long life with plenty of rest.

Mr Troop said the race had been cancelled to spare volunteers torrents of abuse. The Alliance has subsequently urged anyone receiving violent threats to contact the police.

He added: "We would have been so drained with it."

When attempting to canvass local opinion, BBC Look North said that they struggled to find anyone in Barton who was against racing lambs.

Controversial animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were, unsurprisingly, quick to jump on the bandwagon by claiming they believed the animals were being exploited.

"These animals do not consent to this," a spokeswoman said. "There is no need for it. There are so many festivals now that don't have any animal exhibits. We've banned animals in circuses and I'd argue these events aren't much different."

The Countryside Alliance said in a statement:

" It is disappointing that a community event such as this has been targeted by online abuse with organisers being left in fear. A common tactic of animal rights activists- who in many cases have little to no understanding of animal welfare- is to bombard small organisations and businesses with hatred designed to intimidate. Threats should be monitored and if necessary, flagged to the police. A lamb national is completely harmless and enjoyed by lambs and people alike". 

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