Dogs kill up to 4,000 sheep each year - IFA
FARMERS have called for tougher dog regulations after claiming up to 4,000 sheep are being attacked and killed each year.
At least 973 sheep died or were injured in 83 attacks in 2013, an average of 11 sheep per attack, according to latest figures from the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA).
However, national sheep chairman John Lynskey said most attacks are not reported and that the actual figure is much higher.
"If these statistics related to 25pc of the problem on a national basis, the real extent may be in the order of 300 to 400 attacks per annum, with 3,000 to 4,000 sheep injured and killed," he said.
Mr Lynskey has called on the Government to review the Control of Dogs Act as lambing season begins this month.
He said no farm is immune to attacks by wandering dogs, and revealed the most common culprits are Alsatians, huskies and terriers, some of which work in pairs or groups.
"It's right around the country, near towns and rural areas, everywhere. There seems to be no pattern to it. Sometimes farmers get numerous attacks on the farm as well.
"There's always a danger that a dog will stray from a residential area when they're not kept under control," he said.
"Dog owners are fully responsible if dogs are found to be worrying or attacking sheep.
"Sheep can be killed at the attack, but they can also lose lambs at a later stage as well, due to distress. The damage can be long-term," he added.
He said when dog owners are traced, they agree to a settlement and the authorities are not informed. This makes it difficult to gauge the full size of the problem.