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6 June 2018 09:40:43 |Agri Safety and Rural Crime,News,Sheep

Sheep farmers to visit shows to raise awareness of livestock worrying

Farmers will be promoting positive relations with the dog-owning public to combat sheep worrying

Farmers will be promoting positive relations with the dog-owning public to combat sheep worrying

Sheep farmers will be using the popularity of agricultural shows and events this summer to spread the message of responsible dog ownership.
With a busy summer ahead, farmers are looking to the many shows taking place in the coming weeks and months as the ideal opportunity to reach out to members of the public.
Farmers are seeking ways to promote responsible dog ownership to reduce incidences of sheep worrying.
Leading rural insurer NFU Mutual recently revealed that the cost of claims related to livestock worrying has reached a record level of £1.6 million across the UK.
The figures follow the release of a report by the All Party Parliamentary Animal Welfare Group which shows more than 1,800 farm animals have been killed by dog attacks in the space of four years.
The National Sheep Association (NSA) is now asking sheep farmers to get involved in any way they can.

The work of NSA to highlight the serious problem of sheep worrying by dogs is well recognised by farmers and the wider public.
However, the group said it needs to continue its work to build positive relationships with the dog-owning public to ensure improved behaviour of the minority of dog walkers that allow their animals to run free around livestock, often with devastating results.
'Positive message'
NSA Communications Officer, Katie James said the number of "completely avoidable attacks" on sheep has caused increasing frustration.
But she says browbeating the public and portraying negative messages about shooting dogs is not an effective message.
“We want to share a positive message about dog owners enjoying the beautiful landscapes in Britain, which are created by the hard work of sheep farmers, and to do so responsibly and consider the impact an attack can have on farmers business and livelihood,” Mrs James said.
For several years NSA has collected data and opinions on sheep worrying attacks to gain an insight into its severity and unseen consequences.

Results from NSA surveys have highlighted the seriousness of the issue, including statistics such as 85% of sheep farmers who’ve suffered sheep worrying attacks experiencing feelings of stress and anxiety, leading to almost a quarter of those affected considering giving up sheep farming as a result.
'Personal angle'
Mrs James said the personal angle is an important one to share when talking about attacks on sheep, as dog owners often think their pets are ‘just playing’ and do not understand the wider picture.
“We want to help them understand the people affected by the crime and how it all links to the management of the great British countryside and vital role of rural communities,” she added.
“Another element of this is having the statistics to back up our claims, as the official crime figures are only the tip of the iceberg. It is very difficult for NSA and others working in this area to gain the attention of the public or the Government when the figures suggest it’s only a small problem.
“NSA understands the reluctance of farmers to report attacks, but if we are to build up an accurate picture of the true scale of the problem, it is vital that every time sheep are worried it is reported to the police and a crime or incident number issued.”
Farmers will be spreading the messages of improving relations with the wider public and the importance of reporting attacks at shows and events throughout the summer.


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