THE WORCESTERSHIRE Wildlife Trust is appealing to dog owners to keep their pets on a lead when walking them on nature reserves after a sheep was attacked on Chaddesley Woods.
The attack was not witnessed and the sheep was found later that day by a farmer who reported the incident to the police.
Rob Allen, the trust’s reserves team leader, said: “Thankfully the sheep is still alive but it is badly injured and, aside from the stress for the farmer, there are also vets bills to be paid.
“We ask that any visitors to our nature reserves keep their dogs on a lead in order to protect our wildlife.
This helps breeding birds during spring and summer as well as over-wintering birds like woodcock during winter.
“It also prevents dogs from chasing other wildlife like brown hare or disturbing hibernating mammals like dormice.”
Mr Allen added keeping dogs on leads also safeguarded any lifestock grazing on the trust’s sites.
“At Chaddesley Woods, for example, we have sheep grazing the wildflower-rich meadows that are situated between blocks of woodland.”
Sheep, cattle and horses are used to graze many of the trust’s nature reserves during autumn and winter.
Grazing helps to control fast-growing grasses, which allows delicate wildflowers to thrive.
The trust does not own the livestock but works with local farmers to ensure that this traditional form of management continues.
Mr Allen said: “As well as helping to protect wildlife and livestock by keeping dogs on leads, it is worth all dog owners remembering that it is illegal for a dog to worry sheep and that a person can be found guilty of their dog worrying without their dog having had physical contact with the animals.”
Visit www.worcswildlifetrust.co.uk for more information.