Tougher legislation needed to curb livestock worrying attacks

Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

The Ulster Farmers’ Union says it is disappointed that two more farmers have been left to deal with the aftermath of dog attacks on livestock while Northern Ireland awaits much-needed livestock worrying legislation. UFU deputy president, Victor Chestnutt said, “This is a growing problem and something needs to be done.”

The comments were made after seven sheep were attacked in the Carrickfergus area on 8th November 2018. The dogs hounded the sheep through the night before brutally attacking them.

Mr Chestnutt said, “Dog owners must take responsibility for their pets. It is not acceptable for dogs to be allowed to roam the countryside freely. When dogs get together in a pack they can be ruthless when it comes to innocent, defenceless animals like sheep. There is a consensus amongst dog owners that their pet dog would not engage in such attacks, however, I would urge dog owners to remember that the desire to hunt and chase is part of any dog’s natural instinct.”

With reports of livestock worrying in Northern Ireland at an all-time high, Mr Chestnutt says it is a major concern for UFU members. “No farmer should have to go through this. It is not just the financial implications of a dog attack but also the emotional toll. It is a harrowing sight to see ewes and lambs that have been seriously injured or killed by dogs. Dog owners need to step up but we also need tougher legislation brought forward,” he said.

Farmers must treat livestock worrying as they would an incident of rural crime. “Report it to the PSNI and your local dog warden for investigation. Despite a record number of reported incidences, we suspect livestock worrying is actually underreported. One of the things we can do is report every incident to help push it up the agenda,” said Mr Chestnutt.