Vandals put traffic and livestock at risk by cutting electric fences on Malvern Hills

Vandals put traffic and livestock at risk by cutting electric fences on Malvern Hills

1814585201. Conservation officer with the Malvern Hills Conservators Beck Baker next to one of the electric cattle fences, that vandals have been cutting. Picture by Nick Toogood.

1814585202. Conservation officer with the Malvern Hills Conservators Beck Baker next to one of the electric cattle fences, that vandals have been cutting. Picture by Nick Toogood.

First published in News

VANDALS cutting electric fences on the Malvern Hills are putting livestock and the public at risk, say Conservators.

Over recent days, electric fences have been cut twice, allowing sheep grazing the hills to escape from their enclosures.

And a water bowser which supplies drinking water for the animals was drained. The incidents all happened on the hills between the Wyche and British Camp.

Grazing was reintroduced on the Malvern Hills by Conservators several years ago, to help preserve the characteristic acid grassland landscape.

The fences prevent to stock from wandering onto local roads and posing a hazard to traffic, but the policy attracted criticism, with some people objecting to even temporary fences on the open hills.

Stephen Bound, director of Malvern Hills Conservators said: "We can't know for certain why this is being done. It could just be mindless vandalism. It could be someone angry because their dog had got a shock from the fence - I've seen that happen elsewhere. Or is could be someone who object to the grazing policy or the fences.

"I would urge whoever is cutting the fences to stop and think about their actions. They are endangering road users and livestock and this vandalism could have very serious consequences.

"If anyone has any complaints about fencing on the Hills I’d be very happy for them to contact me to discuss their concerns."

Deputy conservation officer Beck Barnes said no livestock has been lost or injured, but there is always the risk that animals may stray onto the road, or escaped sheep appear in areas where dog walkers are not expecting them, increasing the likelihood of dog attacks.

The Conservators have not yet involved the police, but they will contact them if the damage continues.

Anyone with information should contact the Conservators on conservators@malvernhills.org.uk or 01684 892002.

Comments (6)

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2:13pm Fri 2 May 14

skychip says...

I recently walked along this stretch of the Hills with my grandchildren. Saw the fencing but didn't see any signs indicating it was electric fencing. Have I missed the signs?
I recently walked along this stretch of the Hills with my grandchildren. Saw the fencing but didn't see any signs indicating it was electric fencing. Have I missed the signs? skychip
  • Score: -2

6:11pm Fri 2 May 14

pudniw_gib says...

While I don't condone damage to the fences there are doubts as to their legality as the hills shouldn't be fenced, only small areas being protected. This argument was raised a few years ago and dismissed by the Conservators.. but they dismiss a lot of public comment.. there are lots of locals who really do not like the organisation.
I have received shocks from the metal gates up there, and I imagine quite a few folks and dogs have had bad experiences with them over the years.
While I don't condone damage to the fences there are doubts as to their legality as the hills shouldn't be fenced, only small areas being protected. This argument was raised a few years ago and dismissed by the Conservators.. but they dismiss a lot of public comment.. there are lots of locals who really do not like the organisation. I have received shocks from the metal gates up there, and I imagine quite a few folks and dogs have had bad experiences with them over the years. pudniw_gib
  • Score: 0

12:28pm Sat 3 May 14

New Kid on the Block says...

Grazing is a necessity in order to protect the landscape. When there were lots of sheep grazing the hills the grass was very different.
I support the decision to reintroduce grazing even if it does mean that fences are needed. They are a small price to pay for the improvement to the area.
If you are getting shocks off the gates it suggests to me that someone has been vandalising the fences. The wires should be totally insulated from their surroundings. That is why the very distinctive plastic fenceposts are being used. If electric fences are installed using wooden or metal posts you will see that the wires are connected using plastic insulators.
Grazing is a necessity in order to protect the landscape. When there were lots of sheep grazing the hills the grass was very different. I support the decision to reintroduce grazing even if it does mean that fences are needed. They are a small price to pay for the improvement to the area. If you are getting shocks off the gates it suggests to me that someone has been vandalising the fences. The wires should be totally insulated from their surroundings. That is why the very distinctive plastic fenceposts are being used. If electric fences are installed using wooden or metal posts you will see that the wires are connected using plastic insulators. New Kid on the Block
  • Score: 0

12:55pm Sun 4 May 14

Bufton Tufton says...

New Kid on the Block wrote:
Grazing is a necessity in order to protect the landscape. When there were lots of sheep grazing the hills the grass was very different.
I support the decision to reintroduce grazing even if it does mean that fences are needed. They are a small price to pay for the improvement to the area.
If you are getting shocks off the gates it suggests to me that someone has been vandalising the fences. The wires should be totally insulated from their surroundings. That is why the very distinctive plastic fenceposts are being used. If electric fences are installed using wooden or metal posts you will see that the wires are connected using plastic insulators.
I agree with New Kid. pudniw_gib says..."While I don't condone damage to the fences there are doubts as to their legality as the hills shouldn't be fenced, only small areas being protected". Others have raised similar questions but lets not be pendents. The fences are there for only a very limited amount of time and full access is maintained. Without the livestock the alternative is more mechanical control, which is very noisy, or let the hills eventually become a wooded forest and loose the views. Personally I like to see the animals grazing, they make the hills somehow seem more "genuine" and less like a country park
[quote][p][bold]New Kid on the Block[/bold] wrote: Grazing is a necessity in order to protect the landscape. When there were lots of sheep grazing the hills the grass was very different. I support the decision to reintroduce grazing even if it does mean that fences are needed. They are a small price to pay for the improvement to the area. If you are getting shocks off the gates it suggests to me that someone has been vandalising the fences. The wires should be totally insulated from their surroundings. That is why the very distinctive plastic fenceposts are being used. If electric fences are installed using wooden or metal posts you will see that the wires are connected using plastic insulators.[/p][/quote]I agree with New Kid. pudniw_gib says..."While I don't condone damage to the fences there are doubts as to their legality as the hills shouldn't be fenced, only small areas being protected". Others have raised similar questions but lets not be pendents. The fences are there for only a very limited amount of time and full access is maintained. Without the livestock the alternative is more mechanical control, which is very noisy, or let the hills eventually become a wooded forest and loose the views. Personally I like to see the animals grazing, they make the hills somehow seem more "genuine" and less like a country park Bufton Tufton
  • Score: 0

11:22pm Sun 4 May 14

chrism says...

Personally I wouldn't have a big problem with the hills becoming more wooded and natural, but it seems the policy is to manage them in an unnatural state and I don't have a huge problem with that (and I'm certainly not keen on the forests of bracken and brambles which we'd get for many years if left unmanaged). I also cycle (so shoot me) and run on the hills, so probably find the fences and gates more inconvenient than most, but to be honest they're not that big a deal. Hence I agree with the posters above - if we accept that it is reasonable to manage the hills in this way, then the Conservators actually do a pretty good job. I've also never had an issue with getting a shock from a gate.

Vandalism like this doesn't really do anybody any good.
Personally I wouldn't have a big problem with the hills becoming more wooded and natural, but it seems the policy is to manage them in an unnatural state and I don't have a huge problem with that (and I'm certainly not keen on the forests of bracken and brambles which we'd get for many years if left unmanaged). I also cycle (so shoot me) and run on the hills, so probably find the fences and gates more inconvenient than most, but to be honest they're not that big a deal. Hence I agree with the posters above - if we accept that it is reasonable to manage the hills in this way, then the Conservators actually do a pretty good job. I've also never had an issue with getting a shock from a gate. Vandalism like this doesn't really do anybody any good. chrism
  • Score: -1

7:25pm Mon 5 May 14

pudniw_gib says...

chrism wrote:
Personally I wouldn't have a big problem with the hills becoming more wooded and natural, but it seems the policy is to manage them in an unnatural state and I don't have a huge problem with that (and I'm certainly not keen on the forests of bracken and brambles which we'd get for many years if left unmanaged). I also cycle (so shoot me) and run on the hills, so probably find the fences and gates more inconvenient than most, but to be honest they're not that big a deal. Hence I agree with the posters above - if we accept that it is reasonable to manage the hills in this way, then the Conservators actually do a pretty good job. I've also never had an issue with getting a shock from a gate.

Vandalism like this doesn't really do anybody any good.
I second chrism's comment re the natural state of the Hills. It is being managed in a way that creates a false situation, just as the 19th century grazing created. The argument seems to be that left to nature the Hills would be a complete woodland, I have my doubts about this given that the environment on the peaks is very harsh, probably too severe in winter for trees to survive. I would like to ask what the Hills looked like 600 years ago or 2000 years ago?
There is a serious conflict of interest with the Town's desire to increase tourism, understandable, and the natural state of the Hills, or at least the perception that a natural hill landscape would stem tourism. We have a previous boss of the Conservators advocating felling trees to "open up views to the Town" very dodgy use of taxpayers money in my opinion..
[quote][p][bold]chrism[/bold] wrote: Personally I wouldn't have a big problem with the hills becoming more wooded and natural, but it seems the policy is to manage them in an unnatural state and I don't have a huge problem with that (and I'm certainly not keen on the forests of bracken and brambles which we'd get for many years if left unmanaged). I also cycle (so shoot me) and run on the hills, so probably find the fences and gates more inconvenient than most, but to be honest they're not that big a deal. Hence I agree with the posters above - if we accept that it is reasonable to manage the hills in this way, then the Conservators actually do a pretty good job. I've also never had an issue with getting a shock from a gate. Vandalism like this doesn't really do anybody any good.[/p][/quote]I second chrism's comment re the natural state of the Hills. It is being managed in a way that creates a false situation, just as the 19th century grazing created. The argument seems to be that left to nature the Hills would be a complete woodland, I have my doubts about this given that the environment on the peaks is very harsh, probably too severe in winter for trees to survive. I would like to ask what the Hills looked like 600 years ago or 2000 years ago? There is a serious conflict of interest with the Town's desire to increase tourism, understandable, and the natural state of the Hills, or at least the perception that a natural hill landscape would stem tourism. We have a previous boss of the Conservators advocating felling trees to "open up views to the Town" very dodgy use of taxpayers money in my opinion.. pudniw_gib
  • Score: 0

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