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Cornwall and Devon have seen over 500 dog attacks on livestock

Cornwall and Devon have seen over 500 dog attacks on livestock

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 6:29am 15th July 2020.

It has been revealed that there have been over 500 attacks from dogs on livestock across Cornwall and Devon over the past five years.

Police say there is a year-on-year increase being reported by farmers across the region.

But it is believed that not all livestock attacks are reported, and the real figure may be much higher.

Now visitors and residents are being urged to keep their dogs under close control when visiting national parks.

The Police Rural Crime Team spent two days last week supporting Okehampton and Tavistock neighbourhood beat teams raising awareness of livestock worrying in locations on Dartmoor in West Devon.

This part of Dartmoor has some of the highest number of reports to police in the county.

The police joined patrols with Dartmoor Park Rangers, Dartmoor Livestock Protection Officer and a representative of the Dartmoor Commoners Council to speak to visitors and residents about the issue.

Dartmoor livestock worrying

“Livestock worrying is a national crime priority.  The West Devon neighbourhood policing team, along our local partners on Dartmoor, were happy to be out encouraging the safe use of the moor.

"We engaged with people using the moor at Sourton, Belstone and Okehampton Camp, raising awareness of the issue and providing information. We urge people to keep their dogs under close control when walking near livestock.”

Sergeant Nathan Walker of Devon & Cornwall Police, based in Okehampton

Livestock worrying around sheep is nothing new and the after-effects of attacks (often too distressing to show in photographs) have been raised regularly in local and national press. Both the National Farmers Union and National Sheep Association have drawn attention to the problem.

The NFU provided figures in 2018 that in four years farmed animals worth £1M had been killed or injured by dogs.

One route the police and partners in the Dartmoor community have taken to try and reduce the number of attacks and to try to support farmers by bringing education and conversation about the problem to areas where it is being reported.  

With the start of the West Country 2020 holiday season upon us and even more people enjoying the national park, the message about keeping dogs under control is even more important.

Dartmoor livestock worrying

“It’s really important and easy to put a stop to the suffering cause by dog attacks on livestock. Responsible dog walkers keep their dogs under close control and, when near sheep, on a lead. What you may think is your dog playing with sheep could be livestock worrying and a criminal offence.

"We have been in the national parks around Okehampton and Tavistock and will be working with the police teams on Dartmoor over the summer to highlight the issue. We hope with the help of dog walkers and local people we can reduce the number of attacks.”

Devon and Cornwall Police Rural Crime Officer, PC Martin Beck

Local police officers, the police Rural Crime team, Special Constables, Dartmoor Rangers, The Dartmoor Livestock Protection Officer and representatives from the Dartmoor Commoners Council were out at various time visiting locations near Meldon Reservoir, Belstone, the Army Camp, The Pimple, Plaister Down, Roborough Down, Longash Airfield, Porkhill and Westdown to speak to people visiting the area and farmers about the problem and offering advice on how to reduce it.

Dozens of sheep each year are killed or injured in Devon with many of the incidents believed to go unreported to the police. Police Rural Crime Officers in the county are continuing to raise awareness in the hope that dog owners and walkers put a stop to the issue by making sure their dogs are under close control when out walking on the moor and other farming areas. If you have information about a dog which chases or attacks livestock, please let the police know or by passing information to Crime Stoppers 0800 555111.

For more information visit: www.dc.police.uk/livestockworrying. If you have information about a dog which chases or attacks livestock please report to police by emailing 101@dc.police.uk or by passing information to Crime Stoppers 0800 555111.

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