Who feels responsible for Bockhop’s stray sheep?

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to: Harald Bartels

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On one of the “affected” pastures, Dr. Horses at Wiebke Kuls reception. © Bartels

Bockhop – When a shepherd passes with his flock, this is one of the popular image forms. Currently free-roaming sheep can also be found in the Bockhop district of Borstel – but they are ‘unprotected’ and not very much welcome.

On July 12, she saw a sheep for the first time in one of her horse pastures, recalls Dr. Wiebke Kuls from Bockhop showing a picture of the animal on her smartphone. “I haven’t thought about it yet.” However, it did not stop with the first meeting – there were visitors every day. Then we asked the neighbors if anyone knew the sheep breeder. No one was able to identify the animals. Finally, I called the police and made sure to send a patrol car.

When she was asked again, police officers referred her to the veterinary office in Diephols. “I thought it would be easier because I’m a vet.” The problem of the stray sheep was already known there and she was told that the owner should be identified.

It is clear that sheep feel comfortable on horse pasture.
It is clear that sheep feel comfortable on horse pasture. © Wiebke Kuls

Then, from the beginning of August, a whole flock of sheep appeared on the pastures. Since the beginning of the appearance of ten animals, only eight can now be seen. Again I called the police and the vet office without solving the problem. Finally, I contacted the combined municipal administration in Sydenburg, where they already knew about the animals.

Wiebke Kuls does not mind sheep eating grass in their pasture. The animals left an unkempt impression and were clearly uncut, unable to find any ear marks. At least they could eat on the pastures, but they didn’t have access to fresh water, especially during the past hot weeks.

People feel lonely

In addition, Wiebke Kuls is concerned about the horses on the pasture, both those on the pasture and those of other owners, “85 percent of the horses on the farm are pension horses.” Fear what they don’t know. Deer or rabbits are not a problem because horses are used to them – but a group of sheep puts them in a state of anxiety. Although the fences are essentially escape-proof, they can still be overcome by panicking horses: “If 15 horses break through, run to the main road and cause a serious traffic accident – that would be the worst case scenario.”

Above all, however, Wiebke Kuls is unhappy with the authorities’ reaction: the police said they were irresponsible and referred her to the veterinary office, and from there heard that they had nothing to do with this and that she should contact the police. “I didn’t feel like I was being taken seriously from the start – I felt devastated.”

Hans Maassen of Bockhop is also unsatisfied. He first noticed the sheep about five weeks ago and also contacted officials: “I spoke to the fishermen, I spoke to the mayor, I called the police and the vet office – no one is responsible, although the owner is allegedly known to the police.” Obviously, the animals must be caught. That’s why he actually called a local vet and help him out.

When asked by our newspaper, press spokesman Thomas Gissing confirmed that the police had known for a long time that the sheep had escaped. However: “As long as the animals do not run dangerously along the road, it is not the job of the police to catch them.”

However, there is a connection with the owner of the animals, and it is his responsibility to capture them. This has already been achieved with some sheep. In addition, they are in contact with the Diepholz district, and if the animals are not caught at all, the district administration gives permission to shoot them, and then the tenant takes over the hunt on behalf of the police.

When Diphols County Press and Public Relations Officer Ann Catherine Beamford was asked initially, she said, “In this case, the responsibility lies not with the Diphols County Veterinary Office, but with the local police station.” meat, food control, offal control), animal disease control and animal carcass disposal, animal care, animal husbandry, and monitoring the manufacture and sale of medicines and animal feed.

So it’s a “ping-pong with the authorities” after all, because nobody declares themselves responsible? No, says Christophe Koldewey of Specialized Service 39 – District Veterinary Services and Consumer Protection, “The responsibility is clearly defined, but the sheep always go back and forth between them.”

In principle, the owner is primarily responsible and must ensure that the animals are caught. If the owner is not identified, the sheep will become lost animals and the relevant municipality will be responsible. The veterinary office only takes care of the case if it is about animal welfare or protection from animal diseases, for example if legal breeding conditions are not observed. In such a case, a fine can be initiated or, if necessary, the animals can be taken out of the facility. “The problem is that people often don’t even notice when we’re taking action because we don’t have to give them information either.”

Society has sheep that have been hunted

In the meantime, however, the ball is in the hands of the joint municipality of Sydenburg: “We didn’t want to make much of it,” said the joint mayor, Rainer Ahrens, when asked, because “we are actually the Regulatory Office which is the last responsible”. The use of arrows for sedatives was due to the fact that the dense fur of animals was out of the question, so an experienced person was now tasked with capturing the sheep. It took a while to feed them enough to become more confident. Several attempts to capture have already failed. “But I suppose it will be by the end of the week.”

This assessment is confirmed: As Rainer Ahrens reported on Friday, September 16, the animals were successfully captured using special fences. A place to shelter the sheep is now being sought.

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