Almost 100 sheep were let loose on a main road in Woodingdean, police have said.
Early on Sunday, March 5, police received a number of calls from members of public reporting up to 100 sheep on the road at Bexhill Road. When police attended around 30 to 40 sheep were seen running towards Falmer Road from the fields running alongside Bexhill Road.
It transpired that a member of public has passed through private fields over the weekend at the farm in Rottingdean and left the gate open allowing the heavily pregnant flock to escape and run into the road.
Cars had to avoid the sheep along Bexhill Road and it was here a dog walker with his dog off the lead had unwittingly come across the flock. One of the dogs has chased the flock onto a main road resulting in police having to close the Falmer Road for a short time.
Police said the same dog had also caused significant distress to the flock, many of which were about to go into lambing season. Sheep worrying like this can cause miscarriages and still born births to pregnant ewes.
Officers added that a ewe also received severe bite to its neck area and it is still unknown whether it will survive the incident due to the likelihood of infection.
PC Lou Douglas said: “Be aware if you are out walking in the countryside, particularly dog walkers or hikers, about where sheep are in fields. Always securely shut gates after passing through public footpaths and bridleways, and not to enter private lands. Keep dogs on leads around any sheep or livestock or immediately get control of dogs when they are off a lead.
“The owner of the dogs involved in this incident have been identified and have been given words of advice.”
Sergeant Tom Carter, wildlife and rural crime lead for Sussex Police, added: “At this time of year, most ewes are in lamb and stress caused by dogs can cause them to abort. Even the most docile of pets can turn killer and even the best behaved of dogs can become uncontrollable. A landowner is able to shoot a dog that they believe is worrying sheep - and that includes if they are running after them or chasing them, not necessarily physically attacking them.
“Don’t walk your pet away from where you are permitted to be and always be aware of livestock - it may not be in sight, perhaps hidden by vegetation or the lie of the land.”