A TENANT farmer at Seven Sisters Country Park is reminding dog walkers to keep control of their dogs when visiting the area following problems in the past.
Uncontrolled dogs can lead to sheep and other animals being savaged, turning a countryside walk into a very unpleasant experience, causing serious injury and distress to livestock, a loss of income for the farmer and possible prosecution for the dog walker.
Sam Stanistreet, tenant farmer at Seven Sisters Country Park, said, “It is a serious problem.
“The park receives half a million visits a year and our livestock grazing helps to ensure that its nationally important biodiversity is maintained.
“Sadly, we have frequent incidents of sheepworrying and savaging. Whilst local dog walkers know that this is a farmed landscape, people from further afield tend to let their dog off the lead as soon as they enter the park, not realising there may be livestock nearby.
“Both the county council and the tenant farmer are working together on a zero tolerance approach to sheep worrying. Every incident is logged with the police and may result in prosecution and the dog being put down. I would ask visitors to keep dogs on their leads or otherwise under close control when near animals.”
East Sussex County Council has recently put up a fence and gates across the road along the valley bottom to help to prevent dogs from running away out of sight to where sheep graze.
John Archer, environment and land use adviser at the National Farmers Union, said, “Thousands of sheep and cattle die as a result of injuries caused by dogs every year and livestock worrying costs the industry an estimated £2m per year.
“It is very tempting for dog walkers to let pets run freely on entering a large field – but there may well be sheep in the field that can’t be seen from the entrance.”