Dog owners are being urged to take extra care as sheep return to Telscombe Tye.
— TelscombeTownCouncil (@TelscombeTC) February 5, 2020
Telscombe Town Council tweeted: “The sheep are returning to the Tye on Monday 10 February. Please ensure you keep your dogs on leads.”
The flock is due from Stud Farm with pregnant ewes due to start lambing in less than two months’ time.
But there are concerns for the safety of the sheep after almost 30 were reported to have been killed in 2017, prompting the town council to consider introducing a public space protection order (PSPO).
The order would give police the power to fine dog owners who walk their pets off the lead on the Tye.
Sussex Police issued a wider warning today after six sheep were killed and 10 injured at a Heathfield farm.
The force said: “Sheep are valuable assets and any harm to them harms a farmer’s livelihood.
“It is every dog’s instinct to chase, even if they are usually obedient and good with other animals.
“Chasing by dogs can do serious damage to sheep, even if the dog doesn’t catch them. The stress of worrying by dogs can cause sheep to die and pregnant ewes to miscarry their lambs.
“Sheep fleeing from dogs are often killed or seriously injured by their panicked attempts to escape, causing untold damage to fences and field boundaries in the process.
“Dogs chasing ewes and lambs can cause mis-mothering issues, with lambs dying from starvation or hypothermia when they become separated from their mother and fail to find her again.
“Dog bites can cause death in sheep or necessitate them being put down at a later date or in less severe cases considerable veterinary bills and additional welfare issues as a result of flies being attracted to the blood and leading to a nasty health problem in sheep called ‘fly strike’.
“Injuries to sheep can also delay the normal farming routine, be it the mating season or administration of vital medicines and vaccines.
“It is an offence to allow a dog to worry sheep. Worrying includes attacking or chasing sheep and, in some circumstances, farmers are legally entitled to shoot dogs if they are endangering their sheep.
“It is vital that you keep your dog on the lead around livestock, even if you can usually trust it to come to call.
“If you live in or near a farming area, you must make sure that your dog cannot escape from your property as it may find its way on to land containing sheep.”