We're reminding dog owners that their pets should be kept under control following reports of sheep worrying in the Forest of Dean.
On Monday (13 December), a farmer reported that his sheep, which are located off old Richard Reads Depot near Mitcheldean, had been targeted by dogs.
Sheep worrying can include dogs attacking animals physically, running after them or chasing the sheep around. Dog faeces left on grazing land may also carry disease that can kill sheep and affect unborn lambs.
Ultimately a landowner may, as a last resort for protecting their livestock, shoot a dog for worrying sheep if they cannot stop the attack by any other means. However, nobody wants to see this outcome.
Dog walkers are known to walk through fields surrounding the area and it is vital that dogs are kept on the lead around livestock, even if you can usually trust it to come to call.
Chasing by dogs can do serious damage to sheep, even if the dog doesn’t catch them. The stress of worrying by dogs can cause sheep to die and bites can also cause death or necessitate them being put down at a later date.
Rural Crime officer PC Cath McDay said: “The loss of Sheep is stressful and upsetting. This isn’t the first time that sheep belonging to this farmer have been chased and he has lost over £5000 in income from sheep deaths in the past couple of years alone.
“It isn’t only the financial loss of the sheep and income, but the upset at the damage caused as well as the stress to those involved.
“In other instances dogs have been witnessed in the past chasing sheep, but the locals didn’t know who owned the sheep so didn’t do anything about it, and I’d like to remind dog walkers that the offences of livestock worrying are still there.
“If sheep worrying is witnessed and the farmer is not known then it must still be reported to police along with information such as details of the dogs owner and descriptions of the animal."
When walking dogs in rural areas, dog owners are advised about the following:
1) Always ensure your dog is under control in an area where there are livestock or wild animals.
2) Be particularly vigilant during lambing season and always keep dogs on a lead during this time.
3) If your dog is not good with other animals or people, avoid letting them off their lead when others are around.
4) Don't allow people who may not be confident in doing so or have full control over the animal to walk your dog.
5) Remember where there may be no livestock in a field one day, the same location could be full of animals the next.
Earlier this year we launched three new online reporting tools for rural, wildlife and heritage crimes.
The forms comprise of "Report a rural crime", "Report a wildlife crime", and "Tell us about a possible rural or wildlife crime" with the latter form aimed at enabling people to report intelligence of crimes that could happen or are going to happen.
To find out more or to report a rural, wildlife or heritage crime please visit: https://www.gloucestershire.police.uk/police-forces/gloucestershire-constabulary/areas/gloucestershire/about-us/about-us/reporting-a-rural-wildlife-heritage-crime/