Sheep drown in dog chase

Craster farmer Ali Grey who lost two sheep because of a loose dog worrying them.
Craster farmer Ali Grey who lost two sheep because of a loose dog worrying them.

A farmer is urging people to keep their dogs on leads after two of his sheep were chased into the sea and drowned at the weekend.

Craster RNLI lifeboat was launched just after 9am on Sunday after they were alerted by Howick Coastguard to a loose dog chasing sheep into the North Sea.

Two pregnant ewes were brought back to shore dead by the lifeboat crew

Farmer Ali Grey, whose family have run Dunstan Square Farm for decades, said: “I was busy feeding cattle when I got the call saying that they had been brought ashore.

“It is particularly worrying at this time of year as we are coming up to lambing and those two sheep were pregnant.

“Fortunately I checked all the other sheep and none of them seem to have been chased. You can normally tell if they have been scared and we were concerned that more would have to abort.

“We were lucky that it was just two, but it is still our livelihood, and we won’t be able to recoup those two sheep for a year.”

The sheep were in a field close to the walk from Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle and it is believed a weekend visitor let her dog run free, despite signs telling owners to keep their pets on a lead.

Ali, 56, added: “There are about 40,000 people a year who visit the castle, and while we have had the odd incident, there has never been anything like this, and most of them are fine.”

A member of the public contacted the emergency services after she saw the sheep running into the sea.

But by the time the lifeboat arrived at the scene, two sheep had drowned and had to be recovered from the water and taken back to Craster.

Kevin Brown, a Craster lifeboat crew member, said: “The sheep had been chased by an uncontrolled dog.”

“This sort of thing doesn’t happen too often, but it’s once too many.

“It must be devastating for the farmer, particularly at lambing time.”

Northumbria Police were also involved in the incident.