ORGANISATIONS are raising awareness of protecting sheep over the Easter holidays. 

Herdy has teamed up with Cumbria Constabulary, Lake District National Park Authority, National Farmers Union (NFU), and the National Trust to raise awareness of the importance of keeping dogs on leads to protect sheep. 

Around 50 sheep worrying, and dog attack incidents are reported to the police in Cumbria on an annual basis, which can land dog owners with prosecutions and fines, and many more go unreported.

Amanda McKirdy from Cumbria Police’s Rural Crime Team says: “People are shocked when they hear that this is a crime that can lead to hefty fines and prosecutions and even lead to dogs being shot.

"It is so easy to avoid, as our new Herdy posters say – just keep your dogs on leads when around sheep."

Sheep worrying is now considered a criminal offence, with the police having increased powers to respond to livestock worrying incidents, and, in the most serious cases, to seize and detain dogs.

National Trust tenant farmers Dan and Ruby Cappleman from Seatoller Farm in Borrowdale said: “It is so important to keep your dog on a lead around livestock, and in particular during the lambing season.

"Pregnant ewes can become extremely stressed, even in the presence of a dog, never mind being chased or even worse, being attacked.

"Pregnant ewes can easily miscarry from this stress, which results in health issues for the sheep and a loss of income for the farmer."

“When you're out walking during this lambing season, please be aware that sheep can pop up anywhere, it is their natural habitat on the fells and your dog will be able to detect them before you may even see them, and even dogs with a great recall can be completely ignorant to their owners once they are onto a scent.”

Keeping dogs on leads in the spring also helps protect ground-nesting birds and other wildlife.

Making sure to always follow the Countryside Code, leaving gates as you find them, parking responsibly, and taking rubbish with you will go a long way while keeping other visitors and the local community safe.