ALWAYS SHUT GATES! It doesn’t matter if land is owned by hunters, pro-cull people, farmers… close the gates for the safety of the animals concerned! Some of us carry baling twine in case latches break or animals escape!
We have come across sheep, cows and pigs in appalling conditions. Please film or take photographs, preferably with some evidence of the location (e.g. a sign with the name of the farm) and contact us and / or the RSPCA / Trading Standards with any evidence. Sheep often get trapped in brambles and wire and they also get cast – fall onto their backs or sides and can’t get up again. If left they can get eaten alive or their lungs fill with fluid and they can die within hours. It is simple enough to get a cast sheep up – just help them try to stand – we have had to cut others out of brambles with ordinary garden secateurs. If you can’t help them call us and the RSPCA and / or the farmer / police.
There will be injured / dying / dehydrated / ill and young wildlife found as we are out protecting badgers, which then become the priority until handed over to someone else, or the animal may well die. Unless you are a vet or a very knowledgeable wildlife person please get advice. In this area Vale Wildlife Hospital take in wildlife 24 hours a day 01386 882288. Don’t assume an animal is dying – sometimes a course of antibiotics, or some fluids, some food, some warmth can work wonders. Be very careful where birds of prey, badgers, foxes, boar and other animals are concerned as you could get hurt yourself. There are people nearby with the knowledge and equipment to help.
NEVER leave litter – that includes cigarette butts(!) as it kills animals. Be considerate to others, especially at meeting points – take a small trowel with you to bury bodily waste, or use a dog bag to remove it. Do not “go to the toilet” in public areas unless you can bury it well! By picking up rubbish e.g. old helium balloons / lanterns / plastic bottles and so on, you may save a life.
Dogs: please clean up after them and keep on leads near sheep, cows, etc. Please ensure that your dog is wormed. Sheep and cows can be infected by worms from dog excrement so it is good practice to protect them. Some cows and bullocks can be aggressive towards dogs, especially if calves are present. The NFU advise releasing the dog so s/he can escape if you get chased as it is thought to be safer for dog (who can run away faster) and human (who will then no longer be targeted).
There are bulls in fields, but in our experience they tend to be more interested in eating grass so don’t fret if you are on a footpath and see a bull in front of you.
If you are followed by bullocks, horses or cows, etc. DO NOT RUN – they can run faster! Stand and face them, let them smell you. If you are being charged however (this is very rare, but…) get out as quick as you can. Walk close to the hedgeline as it is safer than the middle of the field and you are less likely to frighten them (and they will be less likely to frighten you). There are a few fields we would urge caution despite the fact that there are footpaths through them. A good reason not to go to an area without checking with the local autonomous group or office. Please let us know if you have problems so that we can warn others.
If you get followed by sheep they are harmless… normally