Sheep worrying on rise in West Country

A West Country-based insurance company has warned that it has seen a sharp increase in sheep worrying claims over the past 12 months.

Cornish Mutual says that 2008 was its worst year on record for the number of claims made in relation to dog attacks on sheep.

According to the insurance firm, which has offices in Truro and Exeter, it saw an average claim of around £500 per incident across Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset and fourteen claims were made during last year alone.

Chris Ridgers, business development manager for Cornish Mutual said: “I believe these figures are just the tip of the iceberg because many cases of sheep worrying go unreported and no claim is even made.

“It’s all too common an occurrence and it’s so easily preventable. People just need to think carefully when they are walking in the countryside, be responsible and keep their dogs on leads when they are near livestock.

The plea from Cornish Mutual comes after two rottweilers recently savaged and killed fifteen sheep near Denbigh in North Wales.

Cornish Mutual Member Jack Palk who owns a farm near Paignton has had to make four sheep worrying claims over the last two years. During one incident he was called during the early hours of the morning to be told his sheep were on a road with two dogs chasing them. Three animals died and five others had to be treated by a vet.

Mr Palk said: “In the last two years, I can think of at least four attacks on our sheep. We find this of great concern, especially as it affects our livelihood. We hope that in future people will keep greater control over their dogs.”