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Gobions sheep distressed by dogs running free

Warning signs being ignored by some pet owners


Red dog behaviour sign close to restricted areas of Gobions Wood  Image by North Mymms News released under Creative Commons
Red dog behaviour sign close to restricted areas of Gobions Wood
Image by North Mymms News released under Creative Commons
Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust (HMWT) is appealing to dog owners using the Gobions Wood nature reserve to observe the dog restriction signs, and keep their pets on leads in the designated areas.

A flock of Shetland sheep owned by HMWT has returned to the trust’s meadow land adjoining Gobions Wood to graze. A spokesperson for the trust says that, despite “sufficient signage in place”, some people are ignoring the notices which  request them to keep their dogs on leads.

Several signs point out the danger of dogs running uncontrolled in the area Image by North Mymms News released under Creative Commons
Several signs point out the danger of dogs running uncontrolled in the area
Image by North Mymms News released under Creative Commons

On Sunday 26 January, the HMWT warden for Gobions Wood was trying to corner the sheep in order to check a leg injury on one of the animals when a dog “came bounding along the adjacent path and scared the whole flock”.
“The sheep were clearly distressed by this and it certainly didn’t help the injured one. We would appreciate it if dog walkers kept their dogs on leads in the vicinity of the sheep, as stipulated by the signs, as well as in all the other restricted areas of the reserve.”
Last June one of the sheep was chased and worried by a dog off its lead, forcing the sheep to escape from the field, despite restriction signs being posted around the nature reserve.

The flock of sheep grazing on meadows adjacent to Gobions Wood 
Image by Image by Caroline Donatantonio Gobions Wood warden 

Colour-coded signs were introduced by the trust in March to protect “the delicate nature of the habitat or due to the presence of grazing animals”.

In May 2019 some of the dog restriction signs were removed; HMWT said at the time that it didn't know who took the signs down.

Criminal offence


The dog attack on the sheep was investigated by officers from Hertfordshire police with two police cars attending the scene of the incident.

So-called “sheep worrying” and dog attacks on sheep are criminal offences. Sheep Watch UK, which claims 15,000 sheep are killed each year by pet dogs being let off the lead,  has set out how dog owners should behave when around sheep.

Hertfordshire Constabulary is one of five forces to team up with Sheep Watch, the National Farmers’ Union, and the National Sheep Association to produce “Livestock worrying” a guide (embedded below) for farmers and landowners about how to deal with such attacks.





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