WE’VE had the likes of Crimewatch, Watchdog and Neighbourhood Watch.
Now there’s SheepWatch.
The national scheme is the brainchild of environmentalist Terena Plowright, who lives in Petersfield.
The project launched last weekend at Queen Elizabeth Country Park near Clanfield and aims to introduce measures to help protect flocks of sheep.
Terena explained: ‘Reports are coming in nearly daily from across the country and we have had enough.
‘Dog walkers sometimes genuinely have no idea there are sheep in a field.
‘So we are asking farmers to put a notice at entrances to fields announcing that livestock is present, especially those with footpaths through them.
‘This will then remove the excuse that walkers use – that they did not know sheep were there.
‘We can then actively pursue people for having a dog out of control in a field with sheep in it, even if it is not (yet) causing harm.
‘We just ask that farmers remove the signs when they move the stock.’
The law makes it an offence for a dog to be at large – not on a lead or under close control – in a field containing sheep.
It is an offence for dogs to attack or chase livestock.
SheepWatch UK is working with farmers, the National Farmers’ Union, the police, and country parks.
Doug Jones, a parish councillor for Buriton, said: ‘Our parish has had several attacks in the last few months and we are pulling together to aim to put an end to it by being part of SheepWatch UK and imploring people to keep their dogs on leads.’
Terena is handing out signs to farmers to warn dog walkers.
A website has been set up for people to report attacks.
Farmer Andrew Bray, from Buriton, said: ‘I am fed up with seeing injured or dead sheep.
‘Fines may work better than threatening to shoot dogs.
‘That could be a good way to go forward, linked to clear signs out in the fields.
‘I’d also consider naming and shaming people via social media if I caught a dog among my sheep and had evidence of ownership.’