MK Council have asked for dog owners to keep their pets on leads when walking along paths and leisure routes, especially when near livestock pastures.
In springtime, livestock will returning to grazing areas across Milton Keynes, including Campbell Park, the Floodplain Forest and Ouse Valley Park. To avoid livestock worrying and attacks, people walking dogs are urged to always double check if your dog needs to stay on its lead and that the area is clear before letting your dog off.
In recent years, there have been several cases of livestock worrying, dog attacks and even livestock deaths over the last few years. Research by SheepWatch UK shows that more than 15,000 sheep and unborn lambs were killed in 2016, with many more injured. The figures also showed 49 dogs were destroyed as a result of attacks on livestock last year.
An instance has already happened in Milton Keynes in 2017, with three sheep in a flock at Campbell Park dying following an attack earlier this week, and inspections revealing that two other sheep were hurt in the same attack.
Much of MK’s rural landscape is maintained by grazing sheep and roaming livestock play a vital role in the up-keep of Milton Keynes’ many green spaces.
Rob Riekie, Landscape and Operations Director for The Parks Trust, commented, “We know that the vast majority of dog owners are responsible and happy to put their pets on a lead around livestock. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and we do see incidents where a dog has attacked and killed sheep.
“These attacks are hugely distressing and shocking for everyone who works in and enjoys visiting the many beautiful green spaces in Milton Keynes. For this reason we do ask that people remain vigilant and keep their dogs on the lead the whole time they are in grazing areas, while being mindful that we graze the farmland on a rotational basis, so the livestock is moved around. If you see people who are not doing this, then please let us know.”
Livestock worrying is classed as a criminal offence under the Protection of Livestock Act 1953. Worrying is classed as an offence that includes attacking or chasing sheep. In some circumstances, farmers are legally entitled to shoot dogs if they are endangering their sheep.