I was out at Cissbury Ring to support the National Farmers Union’s #TaketheLead campaign to make sure dog walkers keep control of their pets around livestock. Vast majority do but 589 animals killed in Sussex alone in last few years means too many irresponsible ones don't.
Livestock worrying is one of the greatest problems affecting NFU members in Sussex. Over 130 cases a year are recorded by Sussex police, more than the whole of Scotland, and the number is increasing. We are also acutely aware that the number of reported cases is only the tip of the iceberg. Some of our members report incidents with dogs on a weekly or even daily basis, but they often neglect to report it to the police unless it is a serious incident.
Over the last couple of years, Sussex has experienced some of the worst dog attacks in history, including the infamous incident where 116 sheep were killed at West Dean, and another incident where sheep were driven over Beachy Head in 2015. The region is heavily populated and this combined with a grazing landscape, means there is a conflict between people, their dogs and livestock.
Sussex’s natural beauty, proximity to London and Brighton and the ease of access provided across the South Downs makes the county particularly vulnerable to livestock worrying. Farmers look after over 62% of Sussex countryside and many public footpaths go through their land, so it’s vital that we establish measures to ensure both livestock and dogs are kept safe. Livestock worrying needs to be treated as a recordable crime; dog owners must be given consistent information and act accordingly, farmers must report all incidents and the police must take them seriously.
Ultimately, it must be stressed that the number one job of farmers is to produce safe, sustainable and traceable food. They can only do this if they are able to farm safely and profitably and livestock worrying in Sussex is seriously affecting their ability to do this. For small farmers in particular, livestock worrying is devastating because it has a huge impact on their productivity. This problem is entirely preventable if there is simply enough awareness of the issue and it was dealt with effectively.
You can find attached a copy of NFU's report into this issue and a helpful briefing note.
|NPCC Report on Livestock Worrying||3.79 MB|
|Sussex Briefing - sheep worrying||417.19 KB|