Thursday 14th December 2017
Last month’s incident on the Channel island of Jersey – where five Manx sheep were chased over a cliff to their deaths by dogs – underlines the importance of dog-owners keeping their animal under control whilst walking in the countryside.
It happened in the afternoon on Saturday 19th November on the cliffs overlooking La Vau Rouogi Bay where a herd of 13 were chased by two out of control dogs. The eight remaining sheep were rescued after a considerable amount of time and cost from the cliff-side by local fire and rescue services.
A statement from the services said: “Although the dogs were believed to be with their owner, they were not on leads and couldn’t be brought under control before they had managed to chase the sheep.”
The incident comes at a time when the problem of sheep worrying has been discussed recently by Westminster’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, who highlighted the need for farmers to put up better signs and to ensure all incidents are reported to the police.
Although in Scotland laws on animal welfare and agriculture are decided in Edinburgh rather than London, the Chief Superintendent of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), Mike Flynn, echoed the views of the group of MP’s at Wesminster, saying: “A farmer should always report it to the police in the first instance.”
He added: “Always report it to the police so the police have got a record so that eventually if a farmer does turn up at the right time and the dog’s there and he ends up having to kill that dog, the police have got a record of it. The police may also be able to trace the owner of the dog. If a dog does damage to a sheep then technically under the legislation the farmer can seek compensation from that owner.”
A Clackmannanshire farmer, who wished to remain anonymous, gave his views on the subject of sheep worrying: “It is an issue, right across the country, it is a big issue. I think it has a lot to do with these ‘right to roam’ rules where people just think they can walk wherever they like and do what they want. There’s a big cost issue for the farmer if your sheep are being attacked.”
He continued, “We don’t actually keep sheep ourselves and part of the reason is the threat of them being attacked, but we rent out land to other farmers who keep sheep and it’s probably once a year where there’s an incident where the sheep are attacked by a dog or dogs.”
Sheep worrying brings with it a potentially large cost to farmers, who may need compensated for lost carcass sales, aborted lambs, reduced growth rates and larger veterinary bills. If you would like to discuss your insurance policy regarding sheep worrying please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01786 449966.
Watch the full interview on sheep worrying with the Scottish SPCA Chief Superintendent, Mike Flynn, below: