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Mystery of 56 SHEEP found wandering around a village where no one has come forward to claim them
Locals in Chiddingly, East Sussex, are caring for the flockSheep were reported to the police after being found on April 13
00:45 GMT, 24 April 2013
12:00 GMT, 24 April 2013
Villagers in East Sussex have been left scratching their heads after the bizarre discovery of 56 sheep wandering around their country lanes.
Locals in the village of Chiddingly, near Lewes, are caring for the flock in their back gardens while neighbourhood police search for the owner.
The sheep were reported to the police after being found on April 13 but as yet no one has come forward to collect them.
Puzzler: No-one has claimed the sheep, and locals do not know what to do with them
Mystery: Hugh Soper, of Chiddingly, near Lewes, is caring for 20 of the black and white sheep in his back garden
Hugh Soper, is caring for 20 of the black and white sheep in his back garden with his neighbour is keeping check on the remainder.
Mr Soper said: 'A flock of sheep turned up in Chiddingly and we thought they might have been dumped.
'There's 56 all told. They turned up in my driveway and in my garden where I keep 17 bee hives so I had to herd them through to a patch of land.
'They are chomping in the grass and it makes me wonder if a farmer had a terrible spring and cannot afford to pay hay charges and then abandoned them.
'They have black faces and legs but have not been tagged and I understand they have to be tagged at a year old.
'Some ended up in a field rather unsuitable for sheep because it had holes in the fence but now my neighbour has taken some of them onto his land and is caring for them.
Lost The sheep were reported to the police after being found on April 13
Mr Soper (pictured in the background) said: 'There's 56 all told. They turned up in my driveway and in my garden where I keep 17 bee hives so I had to herd them through to a patch of land'
Sussex Police were called but say there have been no reports of missing sheep in the area
'My son did take care of some sheep once and I've a biggish garden so it has not been too difficult looking after them.
'I've phoned all my direct neighbours and visited farms I knew of and had one or two leads but they've not led anywhere.'
He added that if no one came forward in two weeks the sheep would become owned by him but could not be sold for meat because they aren't registered or tagged.
Mr Soper said if no one came forward in two weeks the sheep would become owned by him but could not be sold for meat because they aren't registered or tagged
A spokesman for the National Farmers Union said: 'This is a bit of a mystery, the only thing is sheep do travel quite long distances.
'Perhaps they wondered down the road even several miles.
'A farmer might have more sheep than this and hasn't counted them up and doesn't realise he is missing them.
'It is very busy at the minute as we are in the lambing period.'
An RSPCA spokeswoman said: 'I have double checked with people here and the feeling is that it is far more likely that sheep in these numbers have strayed rather than been abandoned.
'It is certainly not normal for that number of sheep to be found in a back garden, but we are pleased to hear the sheep are OK and are being looked after.
'We stand ready to help the police trace the owners if they need it.'
A Sussex Police spokesperson said: 'Police were called at 5.10pm on Saturday April 13 to a report sheep were in the informant's field.
'However there does not appear to have been any reports of missing or stolen sheep in the area. Neighbourhood Police officers are working to resolve the situation.'