ACCORDING to claims figures from NFU Mutual, farm animals worth more than £1m have been savaged by dogs in the south west over the past four years.

The south west was the worst affected region of England for livestock worrying by cost from 2015-2018.

Held on Saturday, March 2, Devon and Cornwall Police’s day of action on Bodmin Moor helped to educate dog owners on how to be responsible when using the moor.

Rural Affairs Officers and NFU Mutual, along with Bodmin Moor Commons council representatives and Cornwall Search and Rescue, were on hand to offer advice and guidance to farmers and dog walkers alike.

NFU research showed that 87 per cent of dog owners exercise their pets in the countryside, with over 60 per cent letting them roam off the lead. Alarmingly, six per cent of dog owners admitted their pets had chased livestock in the past.

Devon and Cornwall Police has reported that attacks on livestock have increased in recent years and, since April 2018 on Bodmin Moor alone, 54 sheep have been killed, 22 injured and 11 rescued after being chased over a quarry.

Phoebe Ridley, South West Rural Insurance Specialist at NFU Mutual, who attended the event, said: “Attacks by dogs are extremely traumatic for livestock farmers and, in addition to the suffering to the animals, attacks can have a severe financial impact. We welcome the police’s action in educating dog owners, taking a positive step to reducing livestock worrying in the region and enforcing the message of responsible dog ownership.

"Farmers in the south west are being especially hard hit because of the popularity of our scenery with dog owners – particularly on Exmoor, Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor.”

PC Chris Collins, Cornwall Rural Affairs Officer from Devon & Cornwall Police, said: “We are hoping by having a day of action, we will try and educate people to be more responsible when out about on Bodmin Moor. We don’t want to stop people walking their dogs on the land but we want them to be aware of the consequences of what happens both to the livestock, and a dog should there be a report of livestock worrying.

"From the beginning of March until the end of July dogs must be on a short lead at all times and at any time when there is livestock in the area this prevents any incidents and ensures the livestock and dog remains safe.

"If a person lets a dog chase or attack livestock then this is a criminal offence, and they may be prosecuted, they could receive a fine or a dog control order, a dog could be destroyed and in some circumstances a dog could be shot.”

Police advice is that if you witness an attack on livestock happening, do not intervene - keep yourself safe and call 999.

All non-urgent incidents of livestock worrying should be reported to the police by calling 101, emailing or online at

NFU Mutual’s advice for dog owners was as follows:

Always keep dogs on the lead when walking them in rural areas where livestock are kept.

Be aware that even small lap dogs can attack and kill farm animals.

Report attacks by dogs and sightings of dogs roaming the countryside to local farmers or the police.

Familiarise puppies with farm livestock from a young age to reduce the risk of them attacking sheep or cattle as adult dogs.

Don’t let dogs loose in gardens adjoining livestock fields – many attacks are caused by dogs which escape and attack sheep grazing nearby.