As the main outdoor lambing season approaches, farmers across the UK are being asked to take part in new research on livestock worrying by dogs.
The National Sheep Association (NSA) reports that farmers and shepherds are now having to deal with “devastating” incidents where dogs are chasing and attacking sheep on a weekly basis, and says the problem appears to have increased during lockdown.
The organisation has now called on farmers to supply the most up-to-date information on any experiences they have had to a survey which is available at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/sheepworrying2021
NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker said there had been a huge industry effort to highlight the issue which has included discussions with rural police forces, animal welfare charities, the veterinary sector and government.
The NSA has also called for changes in legislation to protect sheep farmers and their stock.
Mr Stocker added: “As one of the few leisure activities that the population has still been able to enjoy in the past year an increased number of walkers often accompanied by their pet dogs have been passing through farmland.
“Although thankfully the majority are responsible, there is a small number that still allow their dogs to run through fields of livestock under little or no control, the resulting effect can be devastating, from extremely distressed sheep to severe injury and sadly, far too often death.”
According to Mr Stocker, the problem extends to stray dogs as well as those which are off the lead when their owners are present.
The survey, which will be anonymous, will form part of the NSA’s “sheep worrying by dogs” campaign which is scheduled to run throughout the year to promote responsible dog ownership.
The survey closes on April 19.