Sheep now present on the Reserve

Barnack Hills and Holes National Nature Reserve is not only a local beauty-spot, it is both nationally and internationally important for its wealth of rare wild flowers. Natural England manages the Reserve for the benefit of its flora.

It is that time of year again when plans to introduce livestock onto the reserve are being made. Whilst I understand many of you, especially dog walkers (including me), find it frustrating, it is an essential part of the management of the reserve to control the sward and maintain the rich diversity of flora and fauna that we all enjoy. Without this grazing the rare orchids and pasque flowers that are highlights of many visits to the reserve will be significantly reduced, if not  lost completely, from the site and therefore the local area.

The original plan to use ponies this year to try to improve the effectiveness of the grazing has had to be abandoned due to concerns about loose dogs on the site. This is an annual issue with irresponsible dog owners allowing pets to chase and “worry” the sheep every year. Even if sheep escape uninjured, they may miscarry their lambs as a result. Dogs must be on short leads in the vicinity of livestock. Sheep worrying is a crime and we would encourage anyone seeing such behaviour to immediately report it to the police by calling 101 and also to Natural England by calling 07979873504 or e-mailing christopher.evans@naturalengland.org.uk.

We do thank all those responsible dog owners who always have their dogs on short leads where livestock is present and also keep their dogs under strict control on all parts of the reserve (whilst all attempts are made at keeping the sheep in one area and the signage up to date please be aware that sheep cannot read).  We do want to continue to allow free access to all parts of the reserve even when livestock are present and would encourage everyone to help us maintain this critically important reserve management tool (there really is no other practical option).