Legislation around dog attacks on livestock has come to the fore once again as Labour vowed to push the issue up the political agenda during its manifesto launch.
Labour has vowed to implement stricter laws on livestock worrying and tackle the issue in a bid to support farmers.
Labour Shadow Secretary for Defra Sue Hayman consulted on the recommendations from the Associate Parliamentary Group on Animal Welfare (APGAW)’s report last year and found the majority of feedback suggested more needed to be done.
Recommendations from the working group, of which Farmers Guardian formed part of, included more powers for police to find kennel businesses and individuals responsible for attacks; the use of DNA to assist investigations; and creating a clearer definition of what ‘close control’ of a dog is when in the countryside.
There were 1,705 recorded incidents of livestock worrying from September 2013-17 in North Wales, North Yorkshire, Hertfordshire, Sussex, and Devon and Cornwall – with 1,928 animals killed.
Cumbria-based Ms Hayman, who has experienced livestock worrying on her own sheep, told Farmers Guardian: “I spent some time talking to the police and APGAW had done a really good report on it, and I thought this is really something that needs to be brought up the Labour agenda.
“The farmers need support on this.”
APGAW said it was also asking for an updated and amended Livestock Act and that it would like to see a duty to report any attack.
APGAW chairwoman Angela Smith said: “Action needs to be taken now to update legislation, in order to tackle sooner rather than later the suffering and loss caused by livestock worrying, and we will continue our efforts to make progress on this very important issue.”
In Scotland, a Protection of Livestock (Scotland) Bill put forward by Emma Harper MSP is moving through Parliament.
It calls for more investigative powers for the Police in order to secure evidence, increased sentencing and the ability to remove dogs from an owner when required.
The National Sheep Association said it was pleased to see livestock worrying moving up the political agenda.
A spokesperson said: “The use of innovative technology such as DNA testing will help the police address this crime, and giving the police more powers to deal with those who refuse to keep their dogs under control will give farmers more confidence to engage.”