Police and Crime Commissioner urges dog walkers to keep pets on lead during lambing season

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During lambing season, sheep and their offspring can be highly vulnerable. Credit: PA Images

Dog owners are being urged to keep their pets on a lead in rural areas during lambing season.

Cumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, has released an appeal to help reduce sheep worrying.

What is sheep worrying?

Sheep worrying is when, on agricultural land, a dog either attacks sheep, chases them in such a way as to likely cause injury, suffering or abortion of pregnant ewes.

Dog owners who are found by police allowing their dog to be off lead and worrying animals can face a fine up to £1,000.

Farmers are also legally entitled to shoot dogs that are endangering their livestock.

Since 1 January 2023, Cumbria Constabulary has received 12 reports of dogs worrying sheep where the dog owner was present.

Of these 12 reports, there were three incidents resulting in the injury of a sheep and four resulting in the death of a sheep.

Mr McCall, said: "We are exceptionally lucky to live in a picturesque, rural county with plenty of walking trails that lead through the countryside. However, this privilege does come with responsibility.

"We have many farmers and agricultural businesses whose livelihoods depend on the health of their livestock.

"It is our duty as dog owners, and owners of dog walking businesses, to ensure that all dogs are kept on a lead when in a field with or near livestock, no matter how well trained these dogs are.

"We have reached that time of year when many ewes are lambing, and these sheep and offspring are highly vulnerable."

Chief Inspector Lee Skelton, Cumbria Constabulary’s Rural Crime Lead, said: "Sheep and livestock worrying is a serious issue that can be very distressing for farmers and livestock owners, who depend on these animals for their income.

"It is in a dog’s nature no matter how placid they may be to chase and if sheep are chased they become distressed and their instinct is to run, often resulting in horrific injury or death."

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