Milton Keynes Council is reminding dog owners to keep their pets on a lead when walking along paths and leisure routes, especially when near livestock pastures.
Livestock will soon be returning to grazing areas in Milton Keynes, such as Campbell Park, Floodplain Forest and Ouse Valley Park.
To avoid livestock worrying and attacks, always double check if your dog needs to stay on its lead and that the area is clear before letting your dog off.
There have been several cases of livestock worrying and dog attacks over the last few years, so please be mindful when walking through pasture areas.
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.
Much of our rural landscape is maintained by grazing sheep and roaming livestock play a vital role in the up-keep of Milton Keynes’ many green spaces.
The Parks Trust is the self-financing charity which manages and maintains over 5,000 acres of the parks, lakes and landscapes in Milton Keynes, including those areas mentioned above.
“We know that the vast majority of dog owners are responsible and happy to put their pets on a lead around livestock,” said Rob Riekie, landscape and operations director for The Parks Trust.
“Unfortunately, this is not always the case and we do see incidents where a dog has attacked and killed sheep – the most recent of these was in October last year.
“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 a criminal offence under the Protection of Livestock Act 1953. Worrying includes attacking or chasing sheep and, in some circumstances, farmers are legally entitled to shoot dogs if they are endangering their sheep.