Clarification sought over future of Forest's free-roaming sheep
SHEPHERDS have met to discuss rogue sheep allegedly causing mayhem in Forest villages.
Rangers have started to impound dozens of sheep for encroaching into public areas such as schools playgrounds, bus stops and doctor's surgeries.
Some of the animals have also been defecating on roads and bleating loudly at night.
However, the Commoners Association, which oversees the free-to-roam status of the sheep in the Forest, has met to discuss the issue.
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Chairman Mick Holder said: "The Commoners Association decided not to take action over the recent impounding but we will approach the Forestry Commission with regard to the future, asking for some of the statements in the bylaw to be clarified and corrected.
"For instance it has been widely publicised that sheep have been impounded for straying into villages. Well, in fact, they are allowed to wander into villages if they are in search of grazing areas and by law they can lay down in village greens and any grass areas.
"So in Bream, for instance, they have every right of way to travel across the highway to travel to a patch of grazing and lie down.
"However, they are not allowed to lie down within the 'communities', which means no hard standing areas like concrete or Tarmac and if they do that they can be impounded."
Mr Holder said although sheep were allowed to roam, they are supposed to have unique marks to denote the identity of their owners, which is inspected by the Forestry Commission.
He said: "However, what we are concerned about is there is no record of the impounded sheep.
"If for instance they were micro chipped, the second time they'd offended you would be able to see they were impounded before and operate a three strikes and you're out system.
"The final point we would like clarification on is as we understand the bylaw it states that only sheep 10-months-old who have been impounded can be charged for and not lambs."
Heather Lilley, speaking on behalf of The Forestry Commission, said they had been working with the Commoners Association over many years as part of the Dean's Sheep Liaison Group.
She said: "We are in contact with the Commoners Association every few months and we are always happy to take on board any suggestion they have.
"The sheep problems have been ongoing of a while now and following complaints from residents it is only recently that we have been taking action."