Ulster Farmers’ Union has called on DAERA to implement new legislation to cut down an escalating number of dog attacks.
New powers must be implemented to make it compulsory for dog owners to take steps to prevent their dogs escaping from their homes.
Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) made the call during talks with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), suggesting it must establish a database of dog DNA to help curb the number of livestock worrying attacks in the province.
UFU legislation committee chairman James O’Brien said the escalating problem must be dealt with through a series of recommendations, which also included compulsory legislation for dog owners to report their dog’s involvement in attacks out in the field.
He said the Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983 said a dog ‘under control’ was one ‘restrained by a chain or other sufficient leash held by a person exercising proper control over the dog’.
“The emotional and financial stress endured by farmers who lose stock to dog attacks is under-estimated,” Mr O’Brien said.
“For pregnant ewes, the stress of escaping a dog attack can cause miscarriage and death. In some cases, ewes injured following a dog attack may have to be put down; that is the difficult decision for a farmer and one that can lead to costly veterinary bills.
“Any attack on sheep is also an attack on the farmer’s livelihood.”
It comes following reports from rural insurer NFU Mutual that incidence claims of livestock attacks in the UK had jumped almost 70 per cent since 2015.
Costs to the industry in 2017 hit £1.6 million alone, it added.
Mr O’Brien added: “With the summer holidays approaching, the message to dog owners is simple. Keep your dog on a lead when near livestock and bear in mind that once a dog has attacked livestock there is a high probability they will attack again.”