Farmers Guardian’s Take the Lead campaign gathered pace this week as thousands of warning signs were nailed onto fence posts around Britain.
The striking red signs, which warn people to keep their dogs on a lead around livestock, were sent out with Farmers Guardian subscriptions last week and hundreds more readers have got in touch to order theirs.
High profile groups and individuals are continuing to throw their weight behind the initiative, which aims to raise public awareness of livestock worrying and to ultimately reduce the number of devastating attacks. The National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (NFYFC) said it would be doing all it could to spread the Take the Lead message.
National vice-chairman of the NFYFC’s agriculture and rural issues steering group, Lynsey Martin, added: “Young Farmers are supporting the Take the Lead campaign because, as responsible custodians of the countryside, we want to ensure it remains a beautiful place for everyone to enjoy. Keeping your dog on a lead shows respect for all animals and can avoid heartbreak for those whose livelihood depends on the well-being of their animals.”
North Wales Assembly Member Antoinette Sandbach gave her backing after new statistics revealed there had been more than 300 dog attacks on livestock in Wales in the last three years. Ms Sandbach said: “The countryside is not just for pleasure - it’s a working environment and right now is an extremely important time of year for farmers.”
Ms Sandbach wrote to all of Wales’ 22 county councils, along with the three police forces, under the Freedom of Information Act asking each of them to provide a breakdown of dog attacks by county.
Powys had the highest number with 93 attacks from January 2011 to December 2013, followed by Pembrokeshire at 45. In North Wales there were just 25 in three years across the six counties – with nine in Conwy, six in Denbighshire and Flintshire, two in Wrexham, and one each in Gwynedd and Anglesey.
“I was surprised by the figures for some areas, as I constantly hear from farmers about their concerns over sheep worrying,” added Ms Sandbach. “I always urge them to report matters to the police, and I would ask the two farming unions to press members to ensure they report all attacks, so we can build a full picture of what is happening in our fields. It may be that some farmers do not trust their concerns will be dealt with swiftly.”