A savage dog attack on a sheep in Monkton Farleigh has left the future of an Avon Wildlife Trust nature reserve project under threat.

Joe Middleton, Reserves manager with Avon Wildlife Trust, discovered one of five Wiltshire Horn sheep, which were reintroduced to the sloped fields of Brown’s Folly, last Wednesday, mauled just 24 hours later.

The sheep graze for the winter at the scientific interest site which is open to the public and homes a variety of wildlife habitats.

Mr Middleton said: “We actually only reintroduced the sheep for the winter on Wednesday and they were only there 24 hours when we got the call to say one of the sheep had blood around its face.

“I got up there and its jaw was basically hanging off. We took it to the vets where unfortunately it had to be put down.”

The incident was reported to Wiltshire Police and follows a similar attack where three Wiltshire Horn Sheep had to be put down because they were mauled by a dog at a six-acre Monkton Farleigh holding on Saturday, September 8.

Mr Middleton said: “This is worrying as a trend is starting to develop and it obviously means that there might be a dog not under control. But because the field has a kissing gate the dog must have been let in by someone.”

Bradford on Avon Police have reminded dog walkers to keep their pets on a lead when walking them in fields near other animals and stressed their dogs risked being killed.

PCSO Andrew MacLachlan said: “Dog walkers need to be aware that there is legislation out there that allows farmers to shoot a dog that is worrying their livestock. We need people to understand that this could happen and is allowed as long as the dog is providing a genuine threat.”

A farmer in Limpley Stoke shot a dog that was worrying his livestock on Tuesday, September 11.

Mr Middleton said that this is action the Avon Wildlife Trust wouldn’t take but if incidents like this continued they would consider stopping public access to the public nature reserve or removing the sheep from Brown’s Folly which could damage their project.

He said: “It is a three year project on a site which we’d been trying to work on for five years and it would be hugely affected if we lost the sheep grazing there.

“The remaining four Wiltshire Horn Sheep are going to stay on the slopes for the time being. We are hoping the incident was a one off, and with all the fantastic hard work from both Sheep watchers and the local police in Bradford on Avon, the sheep will stay on for the rest of the winter.”

Police have stepped up patrols in the area as well as delivered a letter, warning dog owners to be responsible, to every residence in Monkton Farleigh while Avon Wildlife Trust and their team of local sheep watchers are regularly checking Brown’s Folly.

Anyone with information can call Wiltshire Police on 101 and to find out more about Brown’s Folly visit www.avonwildlifetrust.org.uk/reserves/browns_folly.htm.