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Sheep worrying is a crime

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A shocking new campaign is urging dog owners to be responsible around sheep - and warning them that sheep worrying is a crime.

As the lambing season starts, Safer Richmondshire is using graphic images of sheep killed by dogs last Christmas on poster and leaflets being issued across the district.

It is working with local farmers after learning that in the last few months two sheep have been killed, farmers have been threatened and there are several on going police investigations into cases throughout the county.

Sheep worrying is a criminal offence and owners who allow their dog to carry out this activity could face a large fine or imprisonment. It includes attacking the animals physically, running after them or chasing the sheep around especially when they are carrying lambs – or are themselves young lambs. Dog faeces left on grazing land may also carry diseases that can kill sheep and affect unborn lambs.

Walkers are being reminded to keep their dogs on leads and under control when they make their way through sheep fields. Ultimately a landowner is able to shoot a dog which they believe is worrying sheep – as a last resort for protecting livestock. Police must be notified within 48 hours if this course of action is taken.

North Yorkshire Police Beat Manager, PC Sue Dent, said: “We live in a beautifully rural area and have many dog walkers who enjoy the country walks.  However, the reality is that sheep being worried by loose dogs causes issues not just for the animals and the farmer but also for other walkers who come across the bodies of sheep who have been attacked and then left  to suffer a slow and painful death.

“We are distributing posters and leaflets to remind walkers of their responsibilities and we make no apologies for the graphic nature of the campaign – we have used pictures of animals left in two areas just before Christmas. They were left for anyone to see and clearly the owner of the animal which carried out the attacks would have known what had happened.”

Richmond farmer Mark Firby added: “Finding one of your sheep like this is a shocking and devastating discovery. It isn’t even about the value of the sheep but knowing that they have likely been chased and then attacked doesn’t bear thinking about. Unfortunately many dog walkers believe their dogs are able to simply wander around and do what they want – but it isn’t the case.

“We don’t want to challenge walkers when we see them, but sometimes we have no alternative so we can protect our livestock. These posters and leaflets will highlight their responsibilities as they are walking and will hopefully result in fewer incidents for our sheep.”

Anyone that sees a dog worrying sheep  should contact North Yorkshire Police on 101. Farmers interested in the campaign should contact gina.allen@richmondshire.gcsx.gov.uk

Issued by Safer Richmondshire – 23 February 2015

Last modified: May 9, 2018