Gardaí are investigating the shooting dead of seven sheep on a hillside near Laragh, Co Wicklow.

The sheep were discovered by their owner yesterday afternoon on State-owned commonage land in Glenmacnass, around 1km from the Glendalough Monastic site.

The animals were killed in an area adjacent to the popular Wicklow Way hillwalking route.

All seven were killed with a high-powered hunting rifle.

It is believed the shooting took place sometime on Monday night or yesterday morning.

Up to half a dozen farmers use the hill for grazing animals and there are currently 400 to 500 sheep in the area.

12 sheep were shot dead in the same area two years ago.