KEEP a watch out for signs of rural crime in Warwickshire – that is the message from Warwickshire County Council (WCC).
The council is encouraging visitors in rural areas such as the Burton Dassett Hills Country Park to keep their eyes open for any activity that could be considered rural crime – including the intentional or accidental harming of livestock.
Following a series of lamb fatalities caused by drivers using the country park’s roads and car parks, as well as multiple incidents of sheep rustling, farmers managing the land around the Burton Dassett Hills are keen to increase public awareness of the phone lines available to report rural crime.
Steve Smith, Farmer at The Burton Dassett Hills, said: “Grazing animals play an important role in maintaining the local ecosystems by stimulating plants to grow. This growth triggers biological activity and key nutrient exchanges which are important to maintain the land for long-term farming use.
“Without livestock, sites such as the Burton Dassett Hills would also be very difficult to mow mechanically due to the undulating natural terrain.
“The loss of livestock in these locations can be devastating for us and our rural businesses, as well as causing unnecessary suffering to animals. This is why it’s so important to raise awareness of how the general public can support us by reporting witnessed incidents to help us reduce any harm towards our animals”.
Dog owners are also asked to be mindful of sheep and keep their dogs on leads around livestock, as the impact of sheep worrying intensifies during lambing season. The chasing of sheep by dogs can cause serious harm to the sheep, even if the dog doesn’t catch them. The stress of it can cause sheep to die and pregnant ewes to miscarry their lambs.
If a dog worries sheep on agricultural land, the person in charge of the dog is guilty of an offence, but dogs too can be harmed as a result. As it is an offence to allow a dog to attack or chase sheep, farmers are legally entitled to shoot dogs if they are endangering their sheep in some circumstances.
To help tackle this issue, signs have been put up at Burton Dassett Hills to remind dog owners of their responsibilities in helping protect livestock from harm.
Paula Cheesman, Country Parks Manager at Warwickshire County Council, said: “We are all lucky to live in a part of the country with great access to beauty spots where we can go for long walks. However, we all have a part to play in protecting livestock at this time of year and to ensure no harm comes to them because of people or dogs.
“By keeping dogs on leads when livestock are near, we also help local farmers to protect their sheep for the duration of lambing season.”
“It is important to keep our eyes and ears open on the hills to support our farmers whilst visiting the countryside, and we can achieve this by reporting any harmful activity with phone services such as the Rural Crime Reporting Line to support our local countryside as well as Warwickshire’s rural businesses and economy”.
To report a rural crime anonymously, call the Rural Crime Reporting Line on 0800 783 0137. To report a wildlife crime, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Visit https://tinyurl.com/rpcvw83a for more information about the Burton Dassett Hills.
Visit https://tinyurl.com/4dv65ys6 to find out more about livestock theft.
Visit https://tinyurl.com/nckh8mxu to find out more about the impact of dog attacks.