Vandals have covered fence posts with graffiti and cut down fencing because sheep could be put to graze on a popular dog-walking spot.

Wire fences put up at Ladies Mile, a designated nature reserve, have been cut in more than 30 places after Brighton and Hove City Council decided to graze sheep on the land. New gates have been daubed with the slogan ‘no sheep here’.

Resident John Cook, who walks his dogs on Ladies Mile, said: “It is ridiculous. We don’t want the sheep here and we have been bulldozed. They say the sheep will save money but they are only going to be on for two months of the year and they have to spend money putting up all these fences and cause all this upset.”

Sheep will be introduced on to the land in September for two months.

Sam Dunk, 25, who used to live in Patcham, said it would be a shame for runners, while the loss of land was “gutting”.

Coun Geoffrey Theobald said: “There is two sides to this – the council did a very big consultation quite some time ago and their consultation came back with overwhelming support for putting sheep up there.

“Some dogwalkers are against it but the vast majority of people are very much in favour of it. The sheep only stay up there for relatively short periods of time but, of course, you have a difference of opinion. I presented their petitions to the relevant council committees but the consultation was in favour.”

Other dog walkers support the plans. One, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “If it is good for the environment let them do it – they are just sheep.”

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said: “Extensive information on this on our website says we’ll rotate the areas used for sheep grazing to make sure there’s always plenty of room for dog walkers. Fencing and the presence of ‘lookerers’ regularly tending sheep should make the area more secure from vehicles and antisocial behaviour. In surveying, we’ve had very heavy support for our proposals to improve the location.”