Farmers whose sheep have fallen victim to attacks by dogs are being urged to contribute to a national survey that aims to expose the true scale of the problem.
The call has gone out from the National Sheep Association which wants to document the financial and emotional pain incidences of ‘sheep worrying’ have caused. The results of the group’s third annual survey will be presented to decision makers in a bid to influence the attitudes of dog walkers.
The problem is both a regional and a national one. In a dog attack reported by The Yorkshire Post last month, three year-old lambs had their faces ripped off on a farm in Millington, East Yorkshire by a dog roaming off the lead.
Weeks earlier, another sheep needed its face and throat stitched up to save the animal’s life following a similar attack in Settle, North Yorkshire.
Further afield and an attack earlier this month in Chichester has been described as the UK’s worst in living memory after 116 sheep were killed.
With the lambing season in full swing for many sheep farmers, the aftermath of a dog attack during this time of year can be even more detrimental.
Phil Stocker, chief executive of the National Sheep Association, said: “Sheep worrying by dogs is an issue NSA has been vocal about for some time now, and frustratingly we are continuing to hear reports of attacks on a regular basis. Gathering evidence and information is key when communicating the scale of this issue to both the public and the police.
“While our aim is not to discourage people from walking their dogs in the British countryside, it really is vital to get across the message that any dog is capable of harming livestock.
“Aside from the obvious harm physical injuries can have, equally as detrimental can be the aftermath of a dog simply chasing sheep, particularly at this crucial time of year when ewes are likely to be heavily pregnant.”