Dartmoor - farming communities and landscape threatened by sheep rustling
The landscape in our National Parks is shaped by a variety of factors - climate, industrial activity (such as mining), tourism and agriculture. Sheep grazing has long played a significant part in this process - and now this is being dramatically affected by sheep rustling!
Whilst sheep rustling has been a problem for many years in all our national parks, there are some particular concerns about the current situation on Dartmoor.
The animals are falling victim to more determined thieves who seem willing - and able - to take animals from even the remotest of locations. This is creating the suspicion that locals may be involved so there is a worrying and growing social effect on the local communities.
The sheep on Dartmoor are 'hefted' - ewes teach their lambs about the local area so they don't wander. This means that it's very, very difficult to replace them. Flocks are already small so the knock-on economic effect of the thefts is huge.
Not surprisingly, local hill farmers are now not putting their animals out to graze. But if this continues, the lack of grazing will mean that the features of the land will be changed and the Dartmoor that many of us know and love will be gone.
For more information, see a special report by Steven Morris for The Guardian click here
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