Puppy at work on nature reserves

Sussex Wildlife Trust Grazing Officer Gary Baldock has a new recruit, and, even at six month’s old, she’s proving a firm favourite with the Land Management Team and everyone she meets during her working day.

Border collie Patsy lives and works with Gary and his more seasoned sheepdog, seven-year-old Sky. Patsy has been learning the ropes, helping Gary and Sky to manage the sheep that graze on various Sussex Wildlife Trust reserves, including Malling Down and Southerham Farm.

Gary tells us that Patsy is well behaved. “Quiet indoors, pretty obedient outdoors. She’s a really good dog. And I think she’ll be outstanding”.

Although it might not be obvious, the sheep you see on some of our reserves are actually hard at work, carrying out a vital task, and that’s creating the perfect chalk downland habitat that supports an extraordinary diversity of wildlife. But it can quickly become long grass, brambles and thorn bushes, and the precious butterflies and orchids that downland supports, will vanish.

Sheep are our best defence. And our sheepdogs help Gary look after the sheep that look after the downland.  We have Hebridean, Herdwick and Shetland varieties – all tough breeds, at home in harsh, hilly landscapes. Gary and our volunteer reserve lookerers regularly check on all of our livestock.

Most visitors to our reserves are thoughtful and considerate. However, sometimes problems are caused by out of control dogs. Dogs that worry or attack sheep cause awful trauma, and worse, to our animals. So we ask dog walkers to keep their dogs on leads where sheep are present.

For more information about visiting nature reserves with your dog www.sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/what-we-do/grazing/dogs-on-nature-reserves

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