DOG WALKERS URGED TO #TAKETHELEAD - NFU ACTS TO REDUCE DOG ATTACKS ON LIVESTOCK
The NFU is launching a new initiative to educate dog walkers about the need to use a lead near livestock and when in the countryside.
It has joined forces with partners, including the South Downs National Park Authority, to reduce the incidence of dog attacks on livestock by encouraging dog walkers to #takethelead.
The move comes as new figures from rural insurer NFU Mutual reveal dog attacks on livestock cost £1.6m in 2017*.
Sheep farmers who are NFU members will be out in force across Sussex on Saturday March 3 and Sunday March 4, during a series of events* when farmers and rangers will be talking to dog walkers from 10am.
Farmers will be asking walkers to put dogs on a lead near sheep and cattle and to pick up after pets, bagging and binning dog poo. Farmers have joined forces with South Downs National Park Authority rangers who are supporting the initiative with the Authority’s own take the lead materials – southdowns.gov.uk/takethelead
Sussex NFU Adviser James Osman said: “The number of dog attacks on livestock continues to increase, with distressing consequences for both farmers and dog owners. Most attacks are completely preventable, so we are appealing to dog owners to keep their dog on a lead around livestock.
“We also welcome the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s report on livestock worrying that analysed data from five forces including Sussex. The data from the report shows that 54% of attacks on livestock were recorded as ‘owner not present’; so we would also appeal to dog owners to ensure that dogs are not escaping from houses or gardens and attacking livestock,” explained Mr Osman.
Dog walkers are being asked to bag and bin poo to prevent disease being transferred from dogs to livestock.
The initiative is being launched on Friday March 2 (2pm), beside the radio mast on West Hill, near High Salvington, BN13 3BZ. It is supported by Sussex Police and by Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert, who said: “I strongly back the NFU’s campaign. Livestock worrying is a growing problem which local farmers have told me about, and more needs to be done to tackle it. Of course owners want to walk their dogs in the countryside, but they must be responsible and understand that farmers need to protect their animals and their livelihoods."
The #takethelead campaign will be amplified by the NFU on social media during spring/autumn 2018, deploying the voices of both farmers and responsible dog walkers who are proud to use a lead near livestock.
Notes To Editors
High resolution images both of the launch event on Friday and Saturday’s events will be available (weather permitting) shortly afterwards from: aXNvYmVsLmJyZXRoZXJ0b25AbmZ1Lm9yZy51aw== t: 07778 002617.
Contacts at launch & on Saturday March 3: West Sussex NFU chair Caroline Harriott t: 07774 190189/ (01903) 889943/ Sussex NFU Adviser James Osman: 07796 835730.
*Many losses are unaccounted for in these figures from NFU Mutual, released February 2018.
Shock increase in livestock worrying as cost rises to £1.6m
Leading rural insurer NFU Mutual’s new figures show that the cost of dog attacks on livestock reported to NFU Mutual rose by 67 per cent across the UK in the past two years. The total cost to the industry in 2017 is estimated at £1.6m. The average cost of a claim rose by over 50% to nearly £1,300. Cost of livestock worrying claims increased 67 per cent in two years. Livestock worrying causes horrendous suffering to sheep and lambs. 7 per cent of dog owners admit their pets chase farm animals
NFU footpath signs available to NFU members via NFU Callfirst t: 0370 845 8458.
EVENTS SATURDAY MARCH 3
Cissbury Ring – Findon Valley Car Park BN14 0HT – from 10am/noon; Cissbury Car Park, Nepcote, BN14 0SQ noon/2.30pm. West Sussex NFU chair Caroline Harriott t: 07774 190189, with sheep.
Bury Hill near Pulborough - Whiteways Car Park, Bury Hill, BN18 9DF – 10am/2pm. Farmer Darren Sercombe, Gaston Farm, with sheep.
Castle Hill Nature Reserve, Woodingdean; Balsdean Farm; Telscombe Tye, Saltdean, BN2 8DY. Photocall at Telscombe at noon with sheep.
Farmer Tim Armour at Telscombe Tye: 07711 674030 / 01273 302486. South Downs National Park Authority Rangers: Jasmine Owen – 07384 255195; Mark Hayward – 07973 175505.
EVENTS SUNDAY MARCH 4
Balsdean Farm, near Woodingdean. Ditchling Beacon, from 10am. South Downs National Park Authority Rangers: Mark Hayward – 07973 175505. Jan Knowlson - 07973 738160.
ADDITIONAL EVENT MARCH 15
Castle Hill National Nature Reserve, Woodingdean from 9.30am/11.30am – South Downs National Park Authority Ranger Jan Knowlson - 07973 738160 showcasing work of farmer/grazier in biodiversity conservation.