Helping local communities to reduce the number of attacks by dogs on sheep
Parish Councils in your part of the country may already be aware of distressing attacks on sheep by dogs: over 600 have been killed in the first dozen weeks of 2016 (probably only the tip of a, largely unreported, iceberg) – and most of them will have been pregnant.
Sheepwatch UK is a new initiative, recently featured on BBC Countryfile, which is trying to help people work together to reduce the number of attacks on sheep and support responsible dog ownership.
There is now a website and a Toolkit of ideas which may be of interest to Parish Councils, community groups, schools, farmers and others.
Please feel free to circulate the following details to Parish Councils:
· Dog attacks on sheep seem to be increasing: a situation that affects rural businesses, animal welfare, community relations, access to the countryside, food prices and much more
· The problem can be addressed by bringing people together and using education and awareness to gradually change behaviours
· Parish Councils may be able to play an important role in this matter
· Sheepwatch UK is a new initiative which is trying to help people work together to reduce the number of attacks on sheep and support responsible dog ownership
· The initiative is working closely with the Kennel Club, Farmers Unions, Police Forces, the National Sheep Association and others
· Thousands of sheep (many of them pregnant) are killed by dogs every year – and many more are worried (which can lead to them losing lambs which they are carrying)
· SheepWatch UK is trying to encourage all farmers to report incidents to its website so that there is a better picture of the scale, nature and costs of the problem
· The campaign will offer ideas and advice to farmers as well as producing a ‘Toolkit’ for local communities so that they can organise local campaigns to increase awareness and encourage responsible behaviour in the countryside
· Communities are encouraged to obtain copies of the Toolkit and find out more about the issue via the SheepWatch UK website
· A national conference (free of charge) is being arranged for Friday 3rd June (details via the SheepWatch UK website)
· The initiative has already been featured on BBC Countryfile and interest in using the Toolkit to organise local campaigns has already been received from over half the counties in the country.
We hope that this information may be helpful to you and to Parish Councils in your area. There will be no ‘quick fix’ to this issue but, hopefully, if lots of communities take an interest and help to raise awareness then changes might be seen over the years ahead …
With best wishes
Doug Jones and Terena Plowright