The National Sheep Association has collected the experiences of farmers affected by sheep worrying by carrying out their annual survey. This year the survey focuses on the impact national lockdowns throughout the Covid-19 pandemic have had on incidents of sheep worrying by dogs and the need for a change in legislation to deal with sheep worrying by dogs.
NSA received a record breaking response for its 2021 survey with more respondents completing the annual survey than ever before. An increase of 20% on the previous highest response (2014 joint survey with Farmers Guardian) was observed with an incredible increase of 460% on number of responses from the 2020 survey. A copy of the full results from the survey can be downloaded below.
Key findings from the 2021 survey are as follows:
- On average, each respondent experienced seven cases of sheep worrying during the past year resulting in five sheep injured and two sheep killed per attack. Estimated financial losses through incidents of sheep worrying of up to £50,000 were recorded, with an average across all respondents of £1570. However, most respondents received no or very little compensation.
- Farmers reported feeling of anxiety, anger, upset, stress and frustration as a result of sheep worrying by dogs attacks with more than half recognising this was adversely affecting their mental health.
- 67% of respondents have witnessed an increase in attacks during the Covid-19 pandemic associated they believe with an increase in dog ownership and the general public spending more time walking in the countryside.
- More than half of all respondents had experienced abuse or intimidation when personally asking dog owners to put their pet on a lead.
- The urgent need for a review of legislation surrounding the issue is highlighted in the survey. 80% of respondents agreed that the rest of the UK should follow the recent change in Scottish law that sees stricter enforcement including fines of up to £40,000 and/ or 12 months imprisonment acting a stronger deterrent to dog owners responsible for allowing attacks to happen.
NSA has a close working relationship with Farmers Guardian, the weekly newspaper for farmers, on sheep worrying and has supported their work asking police forces for information and dog worrying incidences via Freedom of Information requests. The figures show an interesting trend but are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of actual cases on the ground. This is for a nunber of reasons: not all police forces respond to the FOI request; dog worrying cases are handled in different ways so do not always show up in the stats; and farmer do not report every incident to the police. Click here to visit the Farmers Guardian dog worrying page.