Hundreds of dogs shot for worrying sheep

An average of one dog a week was shot for chasing sheep between January 2010 and December 2015.

Farmers shot at least 305 dogs in the past six years for frightening their livestock, an investigation by BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today has found.

The figures, provided by 27 police forces in England and Wales, suggested an average of one dog a week was being shot.

The highest, 54, was in West Yorkshire.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) estimates more than 18,000 livestock were killed or seriously injured last year.

Landowners are legally allowed to fire at dogs as a last resort, to protect their animals from attack, but any shootings must be reported to police within two days.

Last month a flock of 116 sheep was killed in the UK’s “worst sheep-worrying attack in memory”.

The animals, many of them pregnant, were discovered on 7 March by farmer Gordon Wyeth in a field at West Dean Estate near Chichester, West Sussex.


Farming Today said they were several recent reports of lambs being killed, so asked police for numbers of dogs being shot on private land for sheep-worrying between January 2010 and December 2015.

27 of the 43 forces in England and Wales provided figures.

  • West Yorkshire 54
  • Durham 33
  • Cumbria 30
  • South Wales 25
  • Hertfordshire 23
  • Greater Manchester 21
  • Sussex 17
  • Cheshire 17

Charles Sercombe, of the NFU, said attacks were “forever increasing” and “some farmers can no longer keep livestock near large conurbations.”

He blamed “a lack of understanding by dog owners” about animals’ natural behaviour and said dogs must be kept on leads near fields of sheep. He warned farmers would “shoot dogs if they are causing a nuisance”.

Ken Jordan, who runs a 30 acre farm near Canterbury, Kent said: “Two years ago a husky got in among a hundred sheep. It pulled one down and took about 30 to 40 minutes to kill it. The police told the owner to keep the dog on a lead when it is out of its own environment and be muzzled.

“A year later the same dog got in with sheep again, and started pulling them down by their back legs and scoring their skin with its teeth, so I shot it”

Of course not all dogs chase sheep but it is important to make sure you keep your dog under control if they do. It is a dog’s instinct to chase, it is your responsibility to ensure your dog does not cause damage and stays safe.

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