The increasing number of attacks by dogs on sheep has led to a ban on dog walkers. Fields with livestock near Durrington Walls and Stonehenge now have restricted access to create some dog free zones after National Trust discussions with tenant farmers concerned by recent attacks on their flocks.
Jan Tomlin, General Manager for the National Trust said: ‘A dog either worrying or attacking sheep is a crime, but despite this, we’ve had an extended and particularly horrible period of sheep worrying with lambs being very badly injured on Trust land over the last month or so. It’s not just lambs being attacked, we’ve had ewes and even a ram found injured.’
Over recent years the Trust claims it has tried extensive signage to encourage people to control their dogs and while many people do, the incidents of sheep worrying have increased.
The Trust allows permissive access for people to walk freely in some of the fields it cares for, but has now closed access for anybody walking dogs in fields where livestock graze at Durrington and also the Cursus and Avenue fields at Stonehenge.
So far, according to the Trust, dog walkers are disappointed but generally accepted t the actions of a few have spoilt free access for everybody.
Local farmer Hugh Morrison says he now carries needles and sutures with him when he inspects his flocks because he expects to find injuries needing immediate attention.
‘It causes the sheep less stress to treat it immediately rather than move it away for treatment.
‘It has been a persistent problem for some years and is getting worse. There were three incidents last month, so we do need to do something to tackle this now.’
While permissive access for dog walkers on National Trust land has been removed, it does not affect access on Rights of Way, and owners are advised to keep their dogs on a lead.
A map showing alternative routes along nearby public rights of way has been put up near Durrington Walls.