Dog owners are being urged to keep their pets under control in the countryside following reports of livestock being harmed by the animals when they are off their lead - which have included the death of one animal.
Carnforth police have received a number of complaints from farmers after a series of incidents in which pregnant ewes and new-born lambs have been harassed by dogs. This can cause not only stress to the animals but can also have financial implications for the farmer if the sheep or lambs are injured or killed.
It is particularly important that dogs are kept on a lead during the lambing season, which is now underway.
Owners can be fined under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, if their pets are found to be worrying or chasing livestock.
"Unfortunately, each year sheep are killed by dogs which have been let off their leads in fields that contain livestock," notes PC Antony Marsh, Community Beat Manager for Silverdale and Warton. "Owners may believe that their pets will not harm the animals but a loose dog is distressing for the sheep and on occasion dogs do attack, and these attacks can be fatal.
“This can be a traumatic experience, not just for the sheep and the other animals in the field, but also for the farmer, whose livelihood is intrinsically tied to these animals, and the dog owner, who is often taken completely by surprise by their pet's behaviour.”
The warning to keep pets on a lead also comes after a sheep was killed at a farm in Warton, near Carnforth, on Sunday, (20th February). The animal’s body had been dumped in a bush after its throat had been torn out in what appeared to be an attack by a dog.
“Owners can be fined if their dogs are worrying livestock but there is also the risk that their pet may be shot by a farmer trying to protect his flock," PC Marsh added. "I would like to remind all dog walkers to ensure that their pets remain on their leads where required.
"It is important that they remain obedient and under control at all times to ensure there is no potential for them to chase or worry sheep that may be in lamb. We will be taking positive action against irresponsible owners.
"Livestock are an important part of farmers' livelihood and they would appreciate the public's assistance in protecting their animals at this important time of year."
• If anyone would like to report any incidents of sheep worrying they can contact Carnforth Neighbourhood Team on 01524 63333.