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Survey Results

National Sheep Association has collected the experiences of of police forces affected by sheep worrying through its annual survey. A copy of the full results from the survey can be downloaded below.

Key findings from the 2024 police survey are as follows:

  • The majority of forces who took part said sheep attacks were the most common rural crime. 
  • 76% of forces who took part reported at least monthly sheep worrying incidents.
  • No force reported never having a sheep worrying by dog incident. 
  • 78% of forces who took part reported an increase in sheep worrying by dog incidents. 
  • Rural crime teams are equally frustrated by attacks. 
  • Dogs off lead and not under control was the main cause of attacks, followed by lack of responsibility, education and disrespect for livestock/farming.
  • Rural crime teams are actively raising awareness of sheep worrying by dogs.
  • Proactive use of signage is considered the most successful tool to help prevent sheep worrying by dogs. 


Key findings from the 2023 farmer survey are as follows:

  • In line with previous survey results, 70% of respondents had at least one sheep worrying incident in the last 12 months.
  • Of these, 95% of them had between 1-10 occurrence in the year.  
  • In almost 70% of cases it's a single dog injuring or killing multiple sheep.
  • Despite farmers making steps to prevent sheep worrying, through signs, moving sheep and use of social media, it’s not having an impact.
  • On average incidence and severity hasn’t changed much since last year but still does not take into account production losses in sheep, including miscarriage, that were reported by almost 70% of respondents.
  • Only 14% of respondents were alerted by the offending dog owner, with the majority left to discover the evidence or alerted by someone else.
  • The majority of cases occur on private land, irrespective of whether there is a public right of way.
  • 70% of respondents reported either verbal abuse, intimidation, being ignored or negative attitude from a dog owner when approached and asked to put their dog on a lead.
  • 82% of survey respondents strongly agreed additional powers are necessary to act as a deterrent to irresponsible dog ownership.
  • Farmers reported feelings of anger, frustration and upset. This year there were additional comments like 'becoming the norm' and 'expected', demonstrating the insidious frequency of sheep worrying by dogs.