GRAPHIC CONTENT: Serious dog attacks at Lewes nature reserve

Malling Down nature reserve

Malling Down nature reserve

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WARNING: This article contains graphic content. The Sussex Wildlife Trust has abandoned a scheduled 'conservation grazing' project near Lewes after two serious dog attacks in the last week.

The two attacks, which both took place at the Malling Down nature reserve, are believed to have taken place on Monday (January 9) and on either Wednesday night (January 11) or early yesterday morning (January 12). The Trust says a total of 10 sheep died as a result of the attacks, although another sheep is reported to have suffered serious injuries.

The trust say 10 sheep died as a result of the attacks

The trust say 10 sheep died as a result of the attacks

As a result of the attacks the trust says it has decided to abandoned its conservation grazing on sensitive areas of Malling Down and move the sheep. The trust says grazing on downland sites is essential for rare species, such as butterflies and orchids, to thrive.

Sussex Wildlife Trust chief executive Tony Whitbread said: "We're moving them away from the site where they were at the time. We were hoping that the planned grazing could have gone ahead so it's a set back. It's not the end of the world from a conservation perspective, we are all much more concerned about what has happened to the sheep.

"We don't know if it's a dog that's escaped or if it's a stray. If it was someone's dog they should have noticed. It would have been covered in blood."

Sussex Police have recently warned dog walkers of the consequences of walking their pets off the lead.

Sergeant Tom Carter, who dealt an incident last year when 116 sheep were killed in a dog attack in West Dean, near Chichester, said: "We urge people to keep their dogs on a lead while they are walking in rural areas and around livestock. So often in these incidents the owners are horrified by what their dogs have done, but they have to accept that even the most docile of pets can quickly turn into a killer given the opportunity.

"A farmer can legally shoot a dog that is chasing livestock and seek compensation from the person responsible for the animal, so please don't take the risk."

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