Sussex Police back campaign against livestock worrying after meeting Ashdown Forest Conservators

Sussex Police officers met with the Ashdown Forest Conservators, the National Sheep Association (NSA) and local farmers recently to discuss the issue of livestock worrying.
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Police said they are highlighting the issue in support of a national campaign to protect wildlife.

Sergeant Tom Carter, of the Rural Crime Team, said: “Livestock worrying has quite significant ramifications not just to the farming community, but to the community as a whole."

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Sussex Police said they work with partners to provide education and engagement about the problem, which they said can have a 'devastating' impact on the local community.

People can find out more about rural crime at

Sergeant Carter said: “Being a responsible dog owner is having the care to look after your dog and ensure that your dog doesn’t get into trouble or come to harm. Unfortunately, the ultimate thing that can happen with livestock worrying is if the dog can’t be stopped, then the farmer can shoot the dog, which is tragic, not just for the dog owner, but it’s tragic for the farmer too.”

The message comes as the NSA launches its Sheep Worrying by Dogs Awareness Week, starting Monday, March 25.

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Sussex sheep farmer Anton said: “It’s just devastating when you turn up and something’s dead or injured. Then you’ve got the impact of having to destroy that animal and it’s just awful all round really.”

Sergeant Tom Carter, of the Rural Crime Team, Sussex PoliceSergeant Tom Carter, of the Rural Crime Team, Sussex Police
Sergeant Tom Carter, of the Rural Crime Team, Sussex Police

His daughter Sophia said: “It’s disheartening and it’s upsetting because you’ve put all this work in, and you’re building a flock and you’re trying to build a life for yourself, and you come across, a sheep that’s injured or dead, and you see all that hard work you’ve put in has been taken away in a split second by a careless dog owner.”

Kari Dunbar, of the Ashdown Forest Conservators, said livestock worrying affects sheep, cattle and ponies, which graze on heathland, as well as many ground-nesting birds like skylarks, nightjars and Dartford warblers.

She said: “If you’re out walking on Ashdown Forest, we just ask you please to keep your dogs on the paths, out of the heather and the gorse, or keep them on a lead if there’s livestock nearby. Education is key, and we have a lot of trainers on the forest who can help to ensure you have a happy, healthy, stress-free walk with your dog on Ashdown Forest.”

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Nicola Noble, from the NSA, urged dog owners to ‘take the lead’, saying: “Lots of people go out and about with their dogs and maybe they’re naïve to the fact that there are sheep or cattle or other livestock roaming the hills where they’re out with their dog, and they’re just not aware of the consequences and knock-on effects.

“I’ve heard incidences of farmers not wanting to leave the farm full stop because they’re so scared of finding another dead animal on their site because of a loose dog. So it’s getting those messages across to the general public that by simply putting your dog on a lead around sheep, you can remove the risk completely.”