Tougher powers to tackle livestock worrying welcomed

Plans for tougher measures to tackle livestock worrying have been welcomed by a leading independent insurance broker.

As new figures reveal that the number of cases of sheep worrying by dogs continues to rise across the UK, H&H Insurance Brokers said the proposed legislation would be a positive step towards reducing attacks on livestock.

Livestock attacks – when dogs chase, attack or cause distress to sheep, cows or other animals – can cause significant injury and distress and can result in the death of the animals which have been chased, worried or attacked.

Under the new measures, police would be given greater powers to deal with livestock worrying.

Paul Graham, from H&H Insurance Brokers, which operates across the North of England, the south of Scotland and Wales, said: “The impact of livestock worrying can be devastating, both in terms of the injuries caused to the animals and the stress and upset for farmers from seeing their animals suffer, as well as the financial implications to their livelihood.

“These proposed new measures are a step in the right direction which must also be combined with increasing awareness among dog owners about the importance of keeping their pets on a lead and under control whenever they are around livestock.”

A recent survey of rural crime teams by the National Sheep Association (NSA) found that 78% of police forces reported an increase in dog attacks on sheep in recent years, with 76% responding to sheep worrying incidents at least once a month.

The survey, which covered 64% of the UK’s rural crime teams, reported that dogs off a lead and not under control was the main cause of attacks, and that proactive use of signage was considered the most successful tool to help prevent sheep worrying by dogs. 

Paul said: “Education is key when it comes to combating the increasing rise in livestock attacks, whether that’s through farmers using signs to alert dog owners to the presence of livestock in fields, or reporting incidents to local rural crime teams which will ultimately help highlight the extent of the problem, as well as action being taken for individual cases.”

The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) Bill, which is currently progressing through Parliament, aims to modernise existing legislation including extending the definition of livestock to include alpacas and llamas, and widening locations where enforcement can be taken to roads and paths.

The updated legislation will give the police more powers to seize dogs after serious incidents, greater powers of entry, and to take evidence samples from livestock and dogs as part of their investigations.

Livestock worrying by dogs is currently covered by the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953. The act makes it an offence to be in charge of a dog that worries livestock on any agricultural land.

H&H Insurance Brokers offer independent advice on all aspects of rural and business insurance. The company has its HQ in Carlisle as well as offices in Durham; Hexham; Wooler; Northallerton; Newtown St Boswells; and Wrexham and Ruthin in North Wales. 

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