Farmers are being asked to fill in a new survey on sheep worrying to help industry lobbying on the devastating rural crime.
The survey, from the National Sheep Association (NSA), will gather data with the aim of informing policy on an issue that appears to have grown in the number of incidents and severity over the past year.
Farmers will be asked about their experiences of dog attacks and their thoughts on how the issue could be resolved.
The survey closes on Monday 19 April.
NSA chief executive Phil Stocker said: “For many years, the NSA has been engaged in trying to highlight the serious issue of sheep worrying attacks by dogs.
“This has seen the NSA involved in many discussions with rural police forces, animal welfare charities, the veterinary sector and government, as we have, alongside others, called for changes in legislation to protect sheep farmers and their stock.”
The NSA said it hears from farmers on a weekly basis who have had dogs chasing and attacking their sheep, with case numbers appearing to have increased during the coronavirus lockdown.
Mr Stocker added: “As one of the few leisure activities that the population has still been able to enjoy in the past year, an increased number of walkers, often accompanied by their pet dogs, have been passing through farmland.
“Although thankfully the majority are responsible, there is a small number that still allow their dogs to run through fields of livestock under little or no control.
“The resulting effect can be devastating, from extremely distressed sheep to severe injury and, sadly, far too often, death.”
All survey data will be collected anonymously, with the information gathered forming part of the NSA’s 2021 “Sheep Worrying by Dogs” campaign, which will run throughout the year to promote responsible dog ownership.
It follows concern that there is a rising number of sheep worrying incidents involving stray dogs.
The campaign will encourage dog owners to be responsible and to ask themselves if they know where their dog is at all times.