Police are calling on people walking their dogs in Richmondshire to take responsibility for their pets after more attacks on livestock.
Officers say they are concerned that as coronavirus restrictions are lifted, more people are travelling to the countryside, and walking their dogs around sheep without enough care.
The warning follows several incidents in the county including one in Richmondshire at the weekend.
On Saturday, a member of the public called police to report a dog running loose in fields in Arkengarthdale.
An officer from North Yorkshire Police’s Roads Policing Group was on patrol on a police motorcycle nearby and attended the scene.
The dog, a German pointer, was seen to chase and attack sheep, including a ewe and a lamb – although they are not believed to have suffered serious injuries.
The dog’s owners were spoken to, and their details taken.
Enquiries are ongoing to identify the sheep’s owner.
The following day, police were called by a farmer reporting a dog had attacked a lamb on his land near Thruscross Reservoir, near Harrogate. The farmer was able to secure the dog, and the lamb was taken away to recover.
The husky dog had managed to get away from its owner before running through a fence, and chasing sheep.
A North Yorkshire Police officer arrived and spoke to the farmer, and the dog owner. In the circumstances, the farmer was content with an apology and for the dog owner to be educated about the risks of a loose dog among sheep. Police therefore dealt with the incident by issuing a community resolution.
In a separate incident last month, a lamb was attacked and killed in Marton Cum Grafton.
North Yorkshire’s specialist rural policing officers are keen to highlighting the financial and emotional impact on farmers of having their livestock attacked.
Inspector Matt Hagen, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “We need dog owners to take responsibility for their animals – it’s very important that dogs are kept securely when at home, and on leads and under control when walking near sheep fields.”
Estimates by NFU Mutual suggest livestock attacks nationally cost farmers £1.2m in 2019.
In 2018, North Yorkshire Police contributed to an expert report by the National Police Chiefs’ Council Livestock Worrying Police Working Group. Their research found that about one in ten of livestock attacks involve repeat offenders – owners whose dog had worried or caused damage to livestock before – highlighting the importance of reporting all such incidents to the police.