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Action on livestock worrying

Livestock worrying and livestock attacks are a growing problem in rural communities. North Yorkshire Police is part of a five-Force working group that is trying to tackle the problem.

Farmers with sheep and member of the Rural Taskforce
Our Rural Taskforce works closely with farmers in the area

As a largely rural Force, North Yorkshire Police has a particular interest in issues that impact on rural communities.  With that in mind, Chief Constable Dave Jones has taken on the role of National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for wildlife and rural affairs, Assistant Chief Constable Amanda Oliver is the “silver Commander” for wildlife crime nationally, and Supt Paula Booth is the “bronze Commander” for rural affairs nationally.   Through this national work, we’re helping to lead the way on new and better police responses to specifically rural problems like livestock worrying, so we can apply them here in our own area.

One of the ways that North Yorkshire Police is doing this is to take part in a five-Force working group on the problem of livestock worrying, alongside police colleagues from Devon and Cornwall, Sussex, North Wales and Hertfordshire.

The working group has analyzed the number of incidents of livestock worrying over a four year period, and used the experience of officers dealing with this issue to define the barriers to policing this problem, and what needs to be done to improve a problem which is estimated to cost the farming community around £1.3m per year.  The findings of this work have been published in the report below.

As the report shows:

  • 11 per cent of the incidents reported in the period involved repeat offenders – owners or walkers whose dog had worried or caused damage to livestock before
  • The dog owner was not present in the majority of incidents, showing that the issue goes beyond keeping dogs on a lead and that owners need to think about they secure their home and garden boundaries to prevent dogs escaping and causing damage when unaccompanied
  • Many animals such as llamas, alpacas, emus and ostriches are subject to dog attacks, but are not defined as livestock meaning they are not covered by the law
  • Police officers do not have the necessary powers to enter a dog-owner’s home to search for and seize a dog that has worried or caused damage to livestock.  This makes it difficult to prevent repeat offences

Now that the report is published, North Yorkshire Police will work with the other Forces, and a wide range of stakeholders with an interest in this issue to see how the barriers to policing can be overcome, so that livestock – and the livelihood of livestock owners – can be better protected.




Livestock worrying - report of the police working group - 21 February 2018[pdf]