Wiltshire Police has put out an appeal to dog owners to keep control of their pets as lambing season approaches.

The force is appealing to dog owners to be responsible when out in the countryside and to keep all dogs on a lead when they're around any livestock.

Now that lockdown measures are beginning to ease and people can start to enjoy the countryside again Wiltshire Police is stating that there is an increasing danger that dogs off the lead will worry sheep and other livestock.

Lambing season is underway and livestock worrying is always a concern during this period.

Livestock worrying is traditionally thought of as a dog biting/attacking livestock, but it can also mean chasing livestock in a way that may be reasonably expected to cause injury or suffering and, in the case of ewes, this includes abortion or loss or reduction in the number of offspring she has.

As well as causing distress to animals, it can also include not having a dog on a lead or under close control when close by, or in a field or enclosure with livestock.

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Sergeant Greg Fergusson, Rural Crime Lead at Wiltshire Police, said: "We are asking all dog owners to help us to protect livestock in Wiltshire by putting your dog on a lead.

"It can be traumatic for farmers who have to deal with the aftermath of an incident, not to mention the financial impacts it has.

"Whether your dog is large or small, naughty or well behaved, the message is simple: Your dog, your duty. Keep your dog on a lead when you are near livestock.

"You can't assume your dog's good nature means it won't chase or attack livestock. 

"If your dog’s natural instinct to chase livestock kicks in it could be too late before you realise anything is wrong.

"The public need to be aware that sometimes when entering a field, you may only be able to see a small part of it. 

"So, you need to be 100 per cent sure before you go in that there are no livestock out of sight, maybe over the brow of a hill.

"We want people to be able to enjoy the countryside. 

"If people are out using the public rights of way with a dog, use a bit of common sense. 

"Use a lead if there is livestock around and don’t deviate from the footpaths as potentially, they could be trespassing."

If you see anything suspicious, please call 101 or 999 if you can see a crime is in progress, or you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.