Dog walkers are being urged to take extra care when walking on the Hills and Commons as sheep and their lambs return to the Malvern Hills this week.
So far this year, a sheep and a lamb have been killed by dogs on the Malvern Hills and three more sheep have been injured. There are many more livestock worrying incidents, which including chasing, that go unreported to the Trust.
Beck Baker, Community and Conservation Officer, said ‘Sadly, dogs chasing and attacking sheep is a common occurrence on the Malvern Hills and Commons.’
‘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. The simple solution of putting a dog on a lead will help keep sheep and lambs safe.’
To help dog walkers avoid the livestock or prepare to encounter livestock, the Malvern Hills Trust provides a weekly Stockwatch update with the locations of sheep and cattle within temporary electric fencing on the Hills and Commons.
Sheep and lambs can be found on East Worcestershire Beacon, West Perseverance Hill, British Camp to Swinyard and throughout Castlemorton and Hollybed Commons.
The public can view this on the Malvern Hills Trust website or sign up to receive weekly email alerts with the information. Stockwatch is also included each week in the Malvern Gazette.
Sheep safe training
To help dog owners better understand their dogs and train their animals to ignore livestock, the Malvern Hills Trust are subsidising Sheep Safe dog training courses. The courses, with dog behaviourist Sue Harper are running through the spring and summer. Contact Sue by emailing sharperdogs[at]hotmail.co.uk for more information and to book a place.
Beck added ‘It is a criminal offence for a dog to worry livestock and we may report incidents to the police. This may result a dog being destroyed and fines for the dog owner. To be safe, always put your dog on a lead near grazing livestock.’
It should be noted that the Malvern Hills and Commons are registered common land so dog walkers should expect to encounter livestock anywhere at any time.
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, and the access and views for visitors.