May 21, 2024

Gisela Hibbeln is worried about free-ranging dogs causing problems for the sheep she keeps in the Alte Kölne Nature Reserve.
Gisela Hibbeln is worried about free-ranging dogs causing problems for her sheep in the Alte Kölne Nature Reserve. © Andreas Schroter

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The Hibbern shepherd family from Grebel is plagued by dogs running loose in the Alte Kölne Nature Reserve. A few days ago, the Hibbel family’s phone rang at 7:30 a.m. The caller said: “Your sheep are free-ranging around here.” Normally, about 300 females about to give birth to lambs are on pastures in the nature reserve, protected by a network of electrical charges.

When the shepherds came to the nature reserve on the day in question, they found their animals scattered over a wide area and very excited. They had to struggle to catch it again. The fence was destroyed in two places. If the shepherds had not been informed so early, the animals would probably have made their way to the Hibbel family farm on Grövelerstrasse. “They know the way,” says Gisela Hibbeln. This could have been dangerous not only for the animals themselves, but also for road users on Gröveler Strasse at the latest.

Gisela Hibbeln, 79, is convinced. Animals will not break through this fence unless necessary. Even if there is a dog outside the fence, the sheep will not run away. Therefore, the only possibility is that the larger dog climbed over the waist-high fence and chased the animals in the pasture.

The Hibbeln family grazes around 300 sheep in the Alte Kölne Nature Reserve.
The Hibbeln family grazes around 300 sheep in the Alte Kölne Nature Reserve.© Andreas Schroter

This theory is also supported by the fact that the animals slept for many hours after this action. They were completely exhausted. One of the sheep, which was about a year and a half old, did not survive the day. His family later found him dead with blood stains on his neck. The dog probably grabbed it. It is unclear exactly how the animal died, and it is thought that the cause was probably heart failure due to excitement.

Gisela Hibern ruled out the possibility that it was wolves rather than dogs that hunted the animals, saying: “Wolves would also have eaten the killed sheep, but that was not the case here.” The other animals are still limp. It is unclear whether the dog also grabbed them, or whether they were injured as they scurried through the undergrowth.

This incident is not an isolated incident. Such scenarios have occurred repeatedly in recent years. Christoph May, a well-known traveling shepherd from Dortmund, works with sheepdogs. However, the Hibbel family does not want that for safety reasons. If someone gets lost in a sheep pasture, it’s probably a child and could be a danger to them.

Gisela Hibbeln urges dog owners to keep their dogs on leads inside nature reserves. And she asks that if an accident happens, she can call her anonymously right away. What’s important is that families receive information and can respond quickly.

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