An impassioned plea was made to dog walkers to keep their animals on a lead when around sheep and newborn lambs.
Dogs chasing pregant sheep can cause them miscarriage due to the stress - sometimes the dogs will even attack the sheep or newborn lambs, wounding or even kkilling them.
Telscombe farmer Tim Armour and South Downs National Park ranger Jan Knowlson were at the Tye on Thursday March 14 to highlight the problem and call on people to keep their dogs under control, particularly during lambing season.
They were joined by Christopher Buggins from Sussex Police for a special patrol at the Tye in East Sussex, which is a popular spot for local dog walkers and site of several recent attacks by dogs on sheep.
Tim, whose flock of some 250 sheep graze on Telscombe Tye under Common Rights, said: “Keeping your dog under control is a matter of respect for the people who take care of the land and their livelihoods.
“I have had to deal with the horrific results of three dog attacks on sheep in the past year and it is not pleasant.
“It isn’t usually the dog’s fault as they’re acting on impulse but, while most people understand that owning a dog is a privilege, there are a few who don’t appreciate the importance of stopping them running free near flocks of sheep.
“At this time of the year ground nesting birds such as skylarks are also bringing up their broods and can also be disturbed by dogs running loose.”
He told of one incident when a dog had bitten one of his sheep on the mouth.
It was taken to the vet but the wound turned septic and the animal died.
Tim explained sheep worrying was a particular problem along the coastal strip near the towns, including Rottingdean and the Seven Sisters Country Park near Seaford.
South Downs National Park ranger Jan Knowlson said:“Most dog walkers respect the lives and livelihoods of the people whose land they’re walking on but a few still allow their dogs off lead when around sheep.
“Responsible dog walking is a great way to experience the South Downs, but even well-behaved dogs can turn if a new-born lamb triggers their instinct to chase.
“These attacks cause unnecessary suffering to the animals and are very distressing for farmers.
“Please be considerate when out enjoying the National Park and keep your dogs under control.”
Tim Armour is a farmer at Telscombe in the South Downs who has Common Grazing rights for 252 ewes and keeps a Community Ewe Flock of 100 sheep owned by Telscombe Town Council on Telscombe Tye.
If a dog worries livestock the dog owner or the person responsible for the animal at the time is guilty of an offence under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 and may be sued for compensation by the farmer.
Farmers are also legally entitled to shoot dogs that attack their animals – although this rarely happens.