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Monday 25th March marks the beginning of Livestock Worrying Awareness Week. With that in mind, the NGO encourages all campaigns which raise awareness of the dangers of off-lead dogs to livestock and wildlife

Monday 25th March marks the beginning of Livestock Worrying Awareness Week.

In Northumbria police force area alone, there were 23 reports of livestock worrying incidents in total in 2023. So far this year, the force have had 11 reports; but we are only 3 months into the year. This could likely increase as we get further into spring, and the improving weather draws more people to the countryside.

In February, a dog attack killed 45 sheep – including lambs – on a Dartmoor farm. The South Downs National Park Authority in Sussex have also launched a new effort to urge responsible dog walking, following a rise in the number of sheep attacks.

According to the National Sheep Association (NSA), around 70% of UK sheep farmers have experienced a livestock worrying attack in the past 12 months. Research from the National Farmers’ Union also suggests livestock worrying incidents are increasing. They report that the cost of livestock worrying to farmers has increased by 50% between 2019 and 2022 to £1.8 million.

A new initiative aimed at educating the public on the impact of livestock worrying has also been launched this week by the police and animal welfare charities.

Cheshire Police, the RSPCA and Naturewatch Foundation have come together to create 'Operation Recall' - an initiative which aims to raise awareness of the impact of livestock worrying and prevent future incidents.

Gamekeepers and other NGO members across the country work alongside the farmers and shepherds on estates and farms, and they see first-hand the damage and trauma that a dog attack can have, both on flocks and on those whose job it is to look after them.

Further than that, out of control dogs – or even dogs which are simply off-lead in the wrong areas – also have a hugely detrimental impact on ground-nesting birds. Spring is the prime breeding time for these birds, which gamekeepers work so hard to protect and to create optimum habitat for.

The NGO fully supports any campaigns to raise awareness of the problems that off-lead dogs can create in certain situations and areas. In many cases, people will be unaware of the risks that their dogs might pose or the wildlife and livestock that are affected. With that in mind, we believe that anything that improves public awareness is to be encouraged.

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