LETTER: Bamboozling dog walkers

I know that many of your readers think conservation bodies like the South Downs National Park Authority do silly things and waste their money.

In fact, we organise lots of unpaid volunteers who do excellent work in keeping brush etc in check, clearing paths and maintaining your local eco-system.

This year again we have placed sheep bang in the middle of your local dog walk near Chyngton Way, Seaford (golf course). It’s the silliest place we could find; the Newhaven Swing Bridge was our preferred site but unforeseen issues ruled it out.

Last year many of the local community complained about what they called “this idiotic project” (and worse!), but local opposition is helpful because it feeds our tendency towards smug self-righteousness. We must be doing something right if everyone thinks we’re wrong. Better persecuted than forgotten. We draw strength from that.

Last year’s opposition made us more determined to carry on and use traditional methods in the wrong place. I think it helps build our volunteering team spirit to feel surrounded by a community we’ve needlessly antagonized.

Students of history may recall the scapegoat tied helpless in a field. Our installation of an exposed group of sheep (what someone cruelly called “sacrificial lambs”) draws attention to the serious problem of sheep worrying by dogs. We say, if dogs won’t come to the sheep, we’ll bring sheep to the dogs and dog walkers.

I know many of you walkers are elderly people exercising your pets near your home. Hey, jump in the car! Friston Forest will soon be muddy enough for dogs. Wearing my ecological hat, I do regret the extra pollution you create.

But last year’s project caught local attention. We regret churning up your path so badly and tried to do better. Unfortunately people may think we don’t listen and stop protesting. I assure you we do listen. We love protest in a shamefaced way.

Next year we hope to run joint sheep and dog races and seminars on preventing sheep-worrying. You’ll see how easily your dog’s instincts succumb when sheep run away. It’s called the “chase response”. Our current project teaches dogs the thrill of the sheep chase. If a sheep or two is savaged, that’ll prove how far-sighted we’ve been and win over the anti-dog faction.

I promise we’ll keep the electrical voltage low so that your large dog will hardly feel our taser-fence. No dogs were shot or badly harmed last year to my knowledge as part of our project. Please keep your small dog under control as it may experience shock and discomfort.

Mike Vallely

Blatchington Hill, Seaford

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be amongst the first to know what’s going on.

1 Make our website your homepage at www.eastbourneherald.co.uk

2 Like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/eastbourne.herald

3 Follow us on Twitter @Eastbournenews

4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

And do share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!

The Eastbourne Herald - always the first with your local news.

Be part of it.