Sheep worrying

Is your dog a sheep worrier?

On several occasions in the past ten days, dogs have escaped the reserve through the hedge at the northern boundary of Village Green and chased sheep in the fields beyond.

On the map below, that hedge is marked with a yellow dotted line.

We have been trying to block the gaps in the hedge but we are very aware that our dead wood barriers will not stop an out-of-control dog that considers sheep to be either a game of chase, or prey. The paths through the hedge are well used; many dog walkers seem to have been happy to let their dogs stray from the reserve through this hedge and into the farmland beyond. There are often sheep in these fields.

The farmer has reported all the attacks to the police; next week, he and the Countryside Team will walk that hedge together in order to understand the problem completely before trying to negotiate a solution.

If your dog worries livestock, YOU have committed an offence punishable by a fine of up to £1000. Also, and much worse than a £1000 fine, a farmer can shoot and kill your dog if he believes that it is an immediate danger to his sheep. New legislation is making its way through Parliament that will give the police increased powers to seize a dog after serious incidents if there is a reason to believe that the dog might pose an ongoing risk to livestock.

Do take the time to follow all the above links so that you understand what constitutes livestock worrying, and what the consequences, legal and otherwise, can be.

Please, please, do not let your dog run off-leash in Village Green if you are not absolutely certain that it would not take advantage of a gap in the northern boundary hedge and the opportunity to chase livestock.

Thank you.

12 thoughts on “Sheep worrying

  1. I know of at least one person that has openly admitted to letting his dog on to the farmland AND exploring it himself. This wasn’t a pandemic pup either. The problem is way bigger than being isolated to only pandemic pups.
 It’s clearly also some dog owners removing the barriers that the Friends install.
    I hope this situation brings more weight to dogs having to be on leads whilst in Village Green. Then ultimately, Village Green being a dog free area.

    1. Yes, that IS worrying. As we try to make the reserve a safe place for wildlife, walkers and their dogs, and our neighbouring farmers and their livestock, it is very worrying that people pick apart and/or undo our work.

  2. Are the incidents mostly at weekends or during the week? Just curious as a daily park dog walker using the park at weekends is a totally different experience. Today sunday 80% of dogs I’ve seen are unsocialised and classic people who only give their dogs a decent walk at the weekend. Please don’t let us daily park dog walkers be branded the same as these people the majority of us take care and pride in the park leaving no trace. It would be a shame to see village green a dog free zone as its a lovely spot to walk through. But as a responsible dog owner I do not walk through the wooded area off lead. I have seen the last month someone walking pointer type dogs all off lead and miles away from their owner. Both dogs running towards village green to flush out wooded area. Would it help to gate village green with signs to say entering field with neighbouring farmland and livestock? Really surprises me that dog walkers specifically would be moving the barriers that have been created?

    1. Yes, we do notice that weekend dog walkers present a different set of problems. It is not okay to leave your dog all day for most of the week and then expect that a Sunday walk in the reserve will be enough exercise or attention.
      I like the idea of gating Village Green with signs on the gate; I will pass that on.

    2. Hi George

      The incident with the sheep did happen on a week day, but I agree with what you say about weekend dog walkers. There does always seem to be way more dogs running around with no owner in sight on the weekends.
      In my opinion, a balance has to be achieved between protecting the wildlife, farmers not having to worry about their livestock being chased or attacked by out of control dogs, and everyone still being able to enjoy the reserve. And we must all remember that it is a Nature Reserve.
      I think – and again, this is only my opinion – that given the protected and endangered species living in Village Green, something has to be done to protect this area. And its not just the wooded area in Village Green that gets damaged, it’s the pond and stream too. The simple fact is that dogs running around off the lead and wildlife do not go together. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t want dogs banned from the reserve, I have friends and family that walk their dogs in the reserve. The place should be enjoyed by both people with and without dogs. But we have to start putting an effort into protecting the wildlife and farmers livelihoods, and Village Green is the obvious place to start doing this.
      The reality is though that protecting Village Green will not be easy to achieve and will likely take a long time. Even if the area was fenced and gated, it would still be largely dependent on dog owners abiding by any rules or guidance that may be put in place.

  3. Thanks for posting this up. The main flock just won’t go down there now, too scared, but I have a second much smaller group down there grazing at the minute. Really low on grass levels elsewhere so this field and the grass I have there is very important. Thanks again W

    1. It’s a problem that we would like solved almost as much as you.
      It’s been too cold for the grass to grow for most of the winter and very little of anything grew during the summer so to have pasture that your sheep are too scared to use must be infuriating.

      1. Definitely 2022 brought its challenges!! Even if this is false spring at the moment, very glad of it. Will have to give you some photos of my sheep for next time. Thanks again,W

  4. I think village green is a good place to take the stance that this becomes an area where dogs should be put on a lead. Like Simon has said about the pond ,dogs running through the water etc. I think acceptable to stop for a drink but not charging through and throwing sticks. Also I just think of those beautiful orchids that pop up every year. Basically there is no excuse for sheep worrying asking people to leash their dogs in a small area of the park isn’t unreasonable. If it’s like this now whats it going to be like when the lambs are about. I recently walked up at Corsham Court and there are sheep in most fields. There are just signs that say all dogs must be on lead when the sheep are grazing. Perhaps some people don’t realise the fields next to the reserve contain livestock. Maybe some signs to remind people sheep grazing they must take responsibility to ensure their dog does not enter the land unless on lead and using public footpaths.

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