Eighteen sheep were killed after it is suspected they were panicked into running into a road by dogs on Sunday (February 12).
The sheep, all ewes heavily in lamb, were being grazed in a field off the A269 just south of Boreham Bridge, between Ninfield and Herstmonceux.
Their owner was contacted by the owner of the land at 10.30pm to advise him that one of his animals had been hit by a car.
He arrived at the scene near the entrance to Little Standard Hill Farm to discover that police were already in attendance where a badly damaged BMW had come to a halt, airbags deployed.
The driver was unharmed, but reported to be ‘very shaken’. A total of 18 sheep lay dead on the road and into an adjoining ditch.
Examination in daylight revealed the sheep had strayed some distance from their original field and that fencing had been stretched and broken.
A neighbouring property owner reported that between 3pm and 4pm on Sunday, two people had been seen walking two dogs, thought to be brown labradors, in the area, although there are no public rights of way.
It is suspected the dogs may have spooked the sheep causing them to stampede and break their way out of the field.
A further 60 sheep had been affected, but had made their way back to the field, except for one that was found in a nearby slurry pit.
It is thought some may well abort their lambs over the next few days.
Sergeant Tom Carter said: “The incidents of sheep worrying by dogs show no sign of abating and it is worrying to note that Sussex now has more deaths than anywhere else in the country.
“The problem is widespread, however, and we are now part of a new National Police Chiefs’ Council working group linking with DEFRA to try and find solutions to the issue.
“In this case, there could have been far worse consequences for the driver of the BMW, who is not to blame for the incident, or for any other road users.
“With the first signs of Spring, more and more people will be getting out into the country to walk their dogs and we continue to urge them not to let them off their leads where there is or where there may be livestock.
“These sheep alone were worth more than £2,500 and their unborn lambs a further £1,350 - and that’s assuming that each ewe was only carrying one lamb.
“Aside from the financial cost, there is the emotional impact on those who have raised and nurtured their stock.
“We urge people to keep their dogs on a lead while they are walking in rural areas and around livestock.
“So often in these incidents the owners are horrified by what their dogs have done, but they have to accept that even the most docile of pets can quickly turn into a killer given the opportunity.
“A farmer can legally shoot a dog that is chasing livestock and seek compensation from the person responsible for the animal, so please don’t take the risk.”
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 101 quoting serial 1188 of 12/02.
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