Dog owners are being urged to keep their pets under control on the Malvern Hills and Commons this festive season.
The warning comes after a sheep was killed and another injured in two separate attacks last month on the Hills.
With the Trust expecting a large number of visitors to the Hills and Commons over Christmas and New Year they have joined forces with West Mercia Police to ask dog owners to be prepared and put their pets on a lead near livestock.
Rural and Business Crime Officer Mick Simpson said: “We want everyone to enjoy the beauty of the Malvern Hills during the festive period and that includes being considerate to livestock. We are asking everyone to ensure that they put their dogs on a lead near to sheep and cattle.
“Allowing your dog to chase cattle or sheep is a criminal offence and can cause stress, injury and even death to livestock in some instances.”
Beck Baker, Community and Conservation Officer at the Trust, added ‘The Malvern Hills and Commons are extremely popular places to visit over the festive season. Boxing Day and New Year’s Day are two of our busiest days in the calendar and we want everyone to have a safe and happy visit.
“Working with graziers and the police, we want to encourage people to take this issue seriously. By putting your dog on a lead near livestock sheep and cattle will be kept safe and happy. You’ll also save yourself and your dog worry and stress should anything happen.”
Dog attacks on the Hills and Commons should be reported to the Police by calling 101 and also to the Trust so they can arrange for the grazier to attend and administer veterinary treatment as fast as possible.
Since the first of January 2019, 6 sheep have been killed by dogs on the Malvern Hills and a further 13 have been injured. Despite chasing incidents also being a criminal offence, many of these go unreported.
John Chance, Hills grazier said "Dogs attacking and chasing the sheep, is very frightening and unsettling for the animals. I can tell when a dog has been loose in amongst the sheep because their behaviour changes and they become very flighty".
"The ewes are now in-lamb (pregnant) and an uncontrolled dog chasing the sheep will cause the death of the unborn lamb".
To help visitors find out where to put their dog on a lead, the Trust publishes Stockwatch, a weekly update with the locations of cattle and sheep grazing on their website www.malvernhills.org.uk. Options are also available for visitors to sign up on the website to receive a weekly email alert. In addition, Stockwatch can be found on the Trust’s social media, in the Malvern Gazette each week.
Alongside the Malvern Hills Trust’s grazing projects, local people, commoners, also graze their livestock as part of their livelihood and visitors could find livestock anywhere at any time.
Cattle and sheep graze the Malvern Hills and Commons all year round and are an essential part of the work to conserve the rare habitats found in this landscape, the ancient archaeology and keep the views open for visitors.
Photo left to right: John Chance, Grazier; Mick Simpson, West Mercia Rural and Business Crime Officer; Nigel Bolton, PC We Don’t Buy Crime, Rural and Business; Rich Vale, Malvern Hills Trust Warden.