Last year police had 148 reports of livestock worrying across Devon and Cornwall.

While this is a slight reduction from the previous year, there is a significant rise in the number of animals killed or injured - 350, report the rural crime team.

Worse still, these numbers are likely to be much higher due to under reporting and the longer term effects of an incident where the distress can cause a sheep to die or miscarry their lambs long after the event.

It can often be difficult to attribute longer term issues to a specific incident.

This week a study was released showing that almost three-quarters of dog owners now allow their pet to roam in the countryside off the lead - even though half say their dog doesn't always come back when called.

This is ten per cent more than a year ago.


Rural insurer NFU Mutual, which carried out the survey, estimates that farm animals worth £1.52million were injured or killed by dogs across the country UK last year.

The south west was the third worst hit region by cost, with farm animals worth an estimated £228,000 killed or injured by dogs.

Livestock worrying is a criminal offence.

Rural police are reminding walkers that all land is owned and access is not a given right unless designated.

They say that it is important that users of the countryside understand specific designations of land and rights of way, for example on land designated as access land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, dogs must be on a lead between the March 1 and July 31 and at all times when livestock is present.

Livestock worrying taking place at the time is considered an emergency dial 999 and explain there is a dog attacking livestock with a precise location.

Call 101 or Email if livestock has been chased or attacked and the dogs have left the location.

Anyone able to offer information relating to livestock worrying is asked to email, call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.