We're urging people to keep their dogs on leads after sheep were attacked by dogs on the Malvern Hills and Commons.
Over the last week, four sheep worrying incidents resulting in two sheep being bitten have been witnessed and reported to the Trust. One of the incidents was witnessed by a member of the Trust's staff who intervened and stopped the dog chasing the sheep on Jubilee Hill. The seriousness of the issue was explained to the owners who put the dog on a lead. Sheep worrying, which includes chasing, is a criminal offence and dog owners could face a fine or in severe cases, see the destruction of their dog.
Beck Baker, Community and Conservation Officer, said "We're shocked that so many livestock worrying incidents have occurred over the last week. Each and every incident is distressing for the livestock and the graziers who care for the animals."
"These incidents can be stopped completely by people putting their dogs on a lead at all times near livestock. We’d like to remind dog walkers that any dog, big or small, docile or aggressive, has the potential to chase or kill livestock so all dogs should be kept on a lead near grazing cattle and sheep."
It is hoped that the injured sheep will make a full recovery.
Witnesses to livestock worrying incidents are encouraged to call the Trust on 01694 892002 to ensure veterinary treatment can be administered swiftly and also to the police on the 101 non-emergency number as a record of the offence.
To help dog owners plan their walks and know when to put their pet on a lead, Stockwatch is published every week with the locations of the grazing compartments on the Malvern Hills and Commons. This information can be found on the Trust's website, in the Malvern Gazette and on social media. A weekly Stockwatch e-newsletter is also available with subscribers receiving an email with the locations of the Trust's grazing compartments each week.
Beck added "Visitors to the Hills and Commons should also be aware that much of this landscape is registered Common Land which means that cattle and sheep can be found freely gazing outside the grazing compartments. Your pet should have excellent recall and if in doubt, please keep your dog on a lead at all times."
Sheep safe courses by an experienced dog behavourist are also available to teach owners how to encourage their pet to ignore livestock. This training reduces the risk of chasing if dog walkers encounter livestock unexpectedly but owners are encouraged to put their dog on a lead at all times near livestock.
Livestock are an essential part of the management of the Malvern Hills and Commons. The cattle and sheep eat the bramble, scrub and young trees and this maintains the open grassland habitat. This keeps the landscape special and benefits the geology, archaeology, wildlife found here, as well as maintaining access and views for visitors.