DOZENS of sheep and lambs have died as a result of dog attacks on grazing land.

A total of 31 ewes were killed on Telscombe Tye between January and November last year. And about 50 lambs were also lost.

Now Lewes District Council is looking at bringing in new rules to protect the livestock from being scared, injured or killed by dogs.

Owners can be legally prosecuted if their dogs are caught worrying sheep. But councils can only enforce the law when a public space protection order is in place.

Telscombe Town Council grazes 100 sheep on the Tye and children from Telscombe Cliffs Primary School regularly visit the flock.

A report for councillors says: “Loss of ewes and lambs can have a major financial and emotional effect on all concerned.

“The cost of replacing livestock is borne by the town council but ultimately from public funds. The sight of a dog attack, at the time of the incident and its aftermath, can be very distressing for the farmer and anyone using the Tye.”

The report says the underlying cause of sheep worrying is the failure to keep dogs on leads, which it says is a persistent problem on the Tye.

A public spaces protection order is now being proposed to help tackle the issue.

It could include ensuring owners keep dogs on short, fixed-length leads at all times, only when near sheep, only at certain times of year, or only in specific parts of the Tye.

Lewes District Council decision-makers agreed to launch a public consultation on the wording of a draft order at a meeting on Monday.

Isabelle Linington, councillor in charge of environmental impact, said the number of attacks was worrying and said: “We just can’t allow that to continue.”

She said the orders were “a bit controversial” and not something the council introduced lightly.

After an option is chosen, the council will have to consider how to enforce the terms of any order.

One way would be to use special council staff who work with the community under a scheme called Neighbourhood First.

Officers explained that although Neighbourhood First officers could issue a fixed penalty notice, they did not have powers to require offenders to provide their names and addresses.

They said officers would try to educate people before issuing fines.

The consultation will ask key groups for their opinions, while an online survey will be available for the public.

Copies of the survey will also be available at Telscombe Town Hall.