Dog attacks on sheep 10 times worse than feared, figures show
New figures in the UK show that dog attacks on sheep are more common than first thought.
It is a familiar pastoral scene - a family taking the dog out for a long walk in the countryside.
But the practice is leading to an increasing number of attacks on sheep by dogs whose owners are ignorant of the risk to livestock.
The problem has become so serious that a farming group has commissioned a report based on police statistics to understand for the first time the true scale of sheep deaths in the UK.
Government officials and senior police officers were presented this week with findings indicating that around 15,000 sheep were killed by loose dogs in 2016, more than ten times higher than the number previously thought.
In response, the National Police Chief Council have agreed to set up a group to investigate how well regional forces react to complaints of dog attacks.
An expert advisor to the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs, Professor Tim Morris, told the Telegraph that the report may even underestimate the scale of the problem.
Professor Morris said attacks were being allowed to continue partly because in large parts of the country police have no grasp of the issue and routinely fail to follow up complaints.
He added that “many forces simply don’t understand the legal powers they have", adding that many dog owners were “deluded” about their pets and “grossly underestimate” the damage they can do.