Appeal to keep dogs on lead after worrying attacks on sheep

People out enjoying the countryside post-lockdown have been urged to keep their dogs on a lead after more reports of distressing attacks on livestock.

As lockdown restrictions ease further, police and farming unions have reminded anyone visiting rural areas to keep their dog under control.

North Yorkshire Police said it was concerned that, as coronavirus restrictions are lifted, more people are travelling to the countryside and walking their dogs around sheep without enough care.

See also: What to do if you’re a victim of… sheep worrying

The warning follows incidents in the Harrogate and Richmondshire areas.

Officers were called were called to a field in Arkengarthdale on 11 July after a member of the public saw a German Pointer attacking an ewe and a lamb.

The dog’s owners were spoken to, and their details taken. Enquiries are ongoing to identify the farmer who owns the sheep, whose injuries are not believed to be serious.

In a separate incident last month, a lamb was attacked and killed in Marton Cum Grafton. Estimates by NFU Mutual suggest livestock attacks nationally cost farmers £1.2m in 2019.

Insp Matt Hagen, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “We need dog owners to take responsibility for their animals – it’s very important that dogs are kept securely when at home, and on leads and under control when walking near sheep fields.”

Lack of respect

Victor Chestnutt, Ulster Farmers’ Union deputy president, said it was wrong that farmers continue to pay for people’s lack of respect for livestock that are grazing in the countryside, after a dog attacked and killed a sheep in County Down.

“It is a harrowing sight to see poor defenceless animals, such as sheep, fall victim to dogs.

“If a dog were to engage in a chase, this could result in injury or death of those sheep who fall foul to the actions of irresponsible dog owners.

“Sheep that have been chased by dogs in the past, and have survived, never fully recover from the attack. This can result in serious financial loss and stress for the farmer, not forgetting the long-term effects of increased levels of depression and disorientation amongst the flock.”

Advice for farmers

  • Where possible, keep sheep in fields away from footpaths
  • Put up signs warning dog owners to keep their pets under control on your land
  • Maintain fences, walls and hedges to make it more difficult for dogs to get into grazing fields
  • Report any attacks to the police immediately
  • Ask neighbours to alert you if they see attacks or loose dogs near your livestock

Source: NFU Mutual

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