May 24

SheepWatch UK

•         SheepWatch UK is a new initiative which is trying to help people work together to reduce the number of attacks on sheep by dogs, support responsible dog ownership and enable stress-free dog walks

•         The initiative is working closely with the Kennel Club, Farmers Unions, Police Forces, the National Sheep Association and others

•         Thousands of sheep (many of them pregnant) are killed by dogs every year – and many more are worried (which can lead to them losing lambs which they are carrying)

•         In the first two months of 2016 (before the horrendous attach at West Dean in which 116 ewes died), over 400 sheep had been killed by dogs (averaging over 50 every week) – and this figure is probably only the tip of a, largely unreported, ice-berg

•         SheepWatch UK is trying to encourage all farmers to report incidents to its website so that there is a better picture of the scale, nature and costs of the problem

•         The campaign will offer ideas and advice to farmers as well as producing a ‘Toolkit’ for local communities so that they can organise local campaigns to increase awareness and encourage responsible behaviour in the countryside

•         Communities are encouraged to obtain copies of the Toolkit (now available) and find out more about the issue via the SheepWatch UK website

•         A national conference (free of charge) is being arranged for Friday 3rd June (details via the SheepWatch UK website)

•         The initiative has already been featured on BBC Countryfile, researchers from the BBC ‘One Show’ have been in touch with us and are currently considering covering the issue, there is reference to the initiative on page 6 of the new ‘South Downs View’ and interest in using the Toolkit to organise local campaigns has already been received from over half the counties in the country.

I hope that this information may be helpful to you.  There will be no ‘quick fix’ to this issue but, hopefully, if lots of communities take an interest and help to raise awareness then changes might be seen over the years ahead …