A NEW intitiative aimed at tackling livestock worrying has launched this week. 

Cheshire Police, the RSPCA and Naturewatch Foundation have come together to create Operation Recall, which stands for Responsibility, Education, Control, Accountability, Livestock, Livelihood.

The initiative aims to raise awareness of livestock worrying and help to prevent future incidents. 

Geoff Edmond, national wildlife coordinator at the RSPCA, said: “Whilst the vast majority of dog owners take care as a matter of course, sadly accidents can happen and even the most docile and obedient dogs can get distracted and excited by grazing animals.

“Being chased by a dog causes the animals stress and anxiety, this can lead to pregnancy loss in livestock, and in some extreme cases, severe attacks can happen which have a devastating effect on the livestock, resulting in injury and even death. This also has an adverse impact on the farmers themselves, both in terms of their livelihood and the emotional toll of seeing their animals suffer.

“Livestock worrying is a welfare issue for dogs too who could become injured during the incident themselves or could even be shot by the farmer. It is lawful for farmers to shoot a dog to protect their livestock - which no one wants to happen.

"Owners could also be prosecuted by police if their dog is caught worrying livestock. This is why it’s so important for us to partner with Naturewatch and the police to educate the public, support our rural communities, and help prevent these devastating incidents from happening.”

The NFU reports that the cost of livestock worrying to farmers has increased by 50% between 2019 and 2022 as the boom of puppies purchased during the pandemic came of age.

The initiative began in Cheshire but will now be rolled out to other police forces as part of the National Rural Crime Unit. An educational video is available for forces to use as part of restorative justice after an incident has occured. There is also an awareness raising campaign aimed at educating the public and preventing incidents. 

PC Jim Clark, at Chesire Police, said his 'heart sinks' when a livestock worrying incident is reported. 

He added: "I instantly know that this will have an effect on the livestock, the farmer, the offender, and sadly the dog involved too.

"Working in partnership with organisations such as the RSPCA and Naturewatch Foundation is brilliant, as we all bring a unique expertise to the project.”

The RSPCA has issued advice for dog owners and said it is always important to keep them on a lead around livestock.