West Mercia Police are currently investigating after recent sheep worrying incidents on the Malvern Hills.
Last week, the charity caring for the Malvern Hills and Commons urged people to keep their dogs on leads near livestock after a sheep found dead after a dog attack on the 10th December. This is death is latest incident in a spate of livestock worrying incidents by dogs over the last 6 months.
Livestock worrying, which includes chasing, is a criminal offence and the details of recent attacks have been reported to the police who are now actively investigating two of these incidents.
Witnesses to livestock worrying on the Hills and Commons are encouraged to contact the Malvern Hills Trust on 01684 892002 to ensure veterinary treatment can be administered swiftly and also to call the police on the 101 non-emergency number or report it online as a record of the offence. Being chased by a dog causes severe stress sheep and can result in the abortion of lambs in pregnant ewes.
Beck Baker, Community and Conservation Officer said, “Your dog doesn’t have to make contact to have a serious impact on the sheep grazing here. Allowing your dog to chase sheep can result in injuries and other complications. In August this year, a dog chased a sheep out of a grazing compartment on the Malvern Hills and onto a main road. The sheep was then hit by a car and died. Injuries caused by chasing may also include broken legs as the sheep run for their lives.”
John Chance, grazier said “It’s not only sheep that are affected by people not controlling their dogs. The behaviour of cattle on the Malvern Hills as changed as a result of being bothered dogs off the lead.”
The police have spoken to the grazier regarding recent incidents and they are carrying out their investigations. Those found to have allowed their dog to worry livestock may face a fine or in the in severe cases, see the destruction of their dog. In 2021 a dog owner must now have their dog muzzled and on a lead at all times on common land following a sheep worrying incident on the Hills.
Beck added "It’s incredibly distressing to see the consequences of people failing to carry out the simple act of putting their dog on a lead near livestock. We’d like urge people to put their pet on a lead anywhere near livestock so that there is no risk of an incident occurring.”
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.
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.