Sheep in the North York Moors national park

Sheep in the North York Moors national park

National park bosses have urged outdoor enthusiasts to follow the Countryside Code after seven sheep died when someone propped open a bridleway gate.

The sheep, worth £2,500, escaped from their field at East Moor Farm near Sawdon in the North York Moors national park.

The animals strayed into neighbouring woodland and were poisoned, most probably by eating ivy or rhododendron.

The sheep were being overwintered at the farm. On Sunday 26 February, someone tied open one gate and propped open another, both of which had self-closing mechanisms, on a bridleway through the farm.

Farm manager Mike Cleasby has posted a picture of the dead sheep and a notice on the gates to show people the consequences of leaving closed gates open. He said: “To deliberately tie open a gate in a field where livestock are kept just beggars belief.

“Not only am I out of pocket for the sheep but I’ve also had to pay to get them taken away and disposed of. This is a case of the good old farmer paying once more for someone’s carelessness.”

Following overwintering, livestock are beginning to be turned out into fields and on to the open moors and the lambing season is underway.

The North York Moors National Park Authority pleaded with people to act responsibly by:

  • Leaving gates as they find them. If they are part of a group, make sure the last person through the gate knows how to leave it
  • Keeping dogs on a lead around livestock and on moorland between March and July during the ground nesting bird season
  • Taking note of livestock warning signs on moorland roads and reducing their speed accordingly.

Jay Marrison, authority’s southern area ranger, said: “We want people to enjoy the North York Moors but they do need to be mindful that it is a working landscape and actions such as propping gates open can affect others’ livelihoods.

“The stunning scenery and extensive network of tracks and trails don’t happen by chance and farmers and landowners play a big part in looking after the national park.

“We would urge people to follow the Countryside Code when out and about in the North York Moors.”

The code can be found on the Natural England website.