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NSA campaign takes positive steps to increased awareness on serious issue of sheep worrying by dogs

30th April 2024

The latest sheep worrying by dogs campaign from the National Sheep Association (NSA) has brought together the agricultural industry, rural police crime teams and dog owning members of the public in a bid to improve awareness of the threat dogs can pose to livestock.

The issue of sheep worrying by dogs continues to be a major cause for concern for farmers, often leading to serious welfare implications for livestock including stress and injury, financial losses for farmers and negative effects on farmers’ wellbeing.

To raise awareness of this problem NSA has for many years highlighted its severity in a week long annual campaign, timed to coincide with the arrival of spring, a time synonymous with fields full of ewes and young lambs, but a time that also traditionally sees a spike in cases of sheep worrying attacks.

NSA Project Manager Nicola Noble who leads NSA sheep worrying awareness activity says: “Over recent years NSA has increased its working relationship with the police on this issue and so this year it made sense to delve further into this during our annual campaign week and ask rural crime teams to share their experiences of sheep worrying attacks with us in our annual survey.

“This year’s survey has shown that 78% of rural crime teams reported an increase in dog attacks on sheep over recent years.  76% of the forces reported that they respond to sheep worrying by dog incidents at least once a month, with 33% of them dealing with incidents on a weekly basis. Most Police forces contributing to the survey (57%) stated that sheep worrying by dogs was their most frequently reported rural crime.”

As part of the NSA campaign a successful webinar was held that welcomed experienced rural police crime teams to provide farmers with practical advice on how to protect themselves and their flocks and what to do in the case of an attack on their animals. This webinar is available to watch back on the NSA website.

And continuing the Association’s work with the police, NSA’s Nicola Noble, alongside animal welfare charities joined the launch of a new national police initiative, Operation Recall, at the end of the NSA campaign week. Operation Recall aims to educate the public on the impact of livestock worrying.  Nicola continues: “Operation Recall was the innovation of Jim Clark, Cheshire rural crime team. In additional to raising public awareness of the devastating consequences of uncontrolled dogs around livestock, the operation has also created a toolbox for rural crimes teams, enabling sheep worrying prevention resources to be shared across UK forces. This operation has increased collaboration within rural crimes teams, which should help streamline and improve responses to dog attacks on sheep.”

For more information on sheep worrying by dogs and NSA’s work on this please visit