A farmer has lost thousands of pounds worth of livestock after up to 70 sheep were found dead in a field.
PC Helen Branthwaite, Cumbria’s wildlife crime coordinator, believes the deaths, which occurred in Dalston last week (February 11), were caused by a sheep worrying incident.
She said: "We take these incidents very seriously.
"Sheep worrying is a criminal offence, as well as the injury and suffering inflicted upon the animals, it can cause huge financial cost to the farmer and ultimately lead to prosecution of the owner or person in control of the dog at the time.
“We urge people to take steps to keep their dogs under control near livestock, using a lead in areas near livestock and keeping a distance and only letting dogs off their lead in areas without livestock.”
Ian Bowness, the National Farmers Union North West deputy county chairman told the News & Star: “Dog walkers are reminded that even the most docile of pets can cause serious injury and death to livestock if they are not walked responsibly, particularly if that dog is not familiar with livestock.
“We are fortunate to have access to so much wonderful countryside in Cumbria and it is great that local people can enjoy this with their dogs.
“It is vital that dog owners are responsible around livestock and follow recommended guidance to help ensure that they can have fun and safe days out in the countryside with their pets, without disrupting the important work of sheep farmers, especially during the lambing season.”
This week, a farm worker in Lancashire took to social media after a loose dog viciously attacked a number of sheep on a farm in Rivington.
Megan Needham, who works at Higher Knoll Farm, wrote: "Please let me know how someone can let their dog do this and just walk away. You are sick.
"Any dogs found off their leads in our fields will be shot - so keep leads on them. We have had enough now."
These incidents come as North Wales Police are ‘finally making headway’ on tasking the Government to change the laws around livestock worrying.
Police in the UK currently have no legal requirement to report livestock attacks – but the North Wales rural crime team (RCT) is working alongside four other rural forces to make the law ‘fit for purpose in 2019’.
Rob Taylor, North Wales RCT, said although farmers had gained more confidence in the team and were beginning to report incidents as they happened, the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 should be scrutinised.
Farmers Guardian has been working with North Wales Police and other key industry stakeholders to toughen up the law as part of its Take the Lead campaign.
The Act is currently not applicable to attacks where incidents occur outside a farmer’s field, for example on roads, and police do not have the power of seizure, the power to obtain DNA or the power to force dog owners whose pets have attacked livestock to report the incident.
Mr Taylor said: “I am a strong believer things do not change until the law comes in. MPs are beginning to realise this is a huge issue for police, for farmers and for dog owners.”
The issue was debated in Westminster last week following Mr Taylor’s objection to Defra’s ‘resolution’ that Section 3 offences of the Dangerous Dogs Act (DDA) could be applied in the instance of livestock attacks without a person being present.