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  1. ITV Report

Number of livestock attacks 'more than doubles' in last year

New figures suggest the number of livestock attacks in Wales more than doubled in the last year.

Rural insurer NFU Mutual suggests £285,000 worth of damage was caused by out-of-control dogs attacking sheep, cows, and other livestock animals.

113%
Increase in the cost of livestock attacks in Wales

The insurer is urging owners to keep their dogs under control while on walks, though new research suggests many attacks are being caused by dogs which have been let out in gardens, escaping and attacking sheep in neighbouring fields.

According to the findings, peak time for attacks is January - April, during the lambing period.

The figures revealed 87% of dog owners exercise their pets in the countryside, with over 60% letting them roam off the lead.

If there is a sign warning dog owners that livestock are in a field, more people (95%) are putting their dogs on the lead - up from 90% in 2018.

The figures suggest more people are putting their dogs on leads. Credit: PA

Merfyn Roberts from NFU Mutual, North Wales said the increase in people putting their dog on the lead was "encouraging news".

We are receiving increasing reports of local dogs escaping from homes and attacking sheep, either because their owners do not know or do not care that their dogs are roaming wild and causing havoc. Thousands of sheep are being killed and horribly mutilated by dogs and we will be redoubling our efforts to raise awareness of the issue, and helping police to bring owners of dogs which attack livestock to justice.

– Merfyn Roberts, NFU Mutual, North Wales

North Wales Police have a dedicated rural crimes team. PC Dave Allen says livestock attacks are "devastating affairs" for all involved.

Any dog of any size and any age can just suddenly attack livestock. The livestock keeper can lose their livelihood and the many years of stock. The pet owner risks losing a much loved member of the family and also hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds in compensation to the victim.

– PC Dave Allen, North Wales Police Rural Crime Officer

In answer to how the problem can be resolved, three quarters of dog owners said they would support heavy fines.

66%
support a ban on dogs from livestock fields during lambing season.
42%
support owners being banned from keeping dogs if their pet had been involved in an attack.