The Ulster Farmers’ Union says a database of dog DNA needs to be established in Northern Ireland to help identify those dogs responsible for worrying livestock.
UFU legislation committee chairman James O’Brien and UFU representatives recently met with DAERA officials to put forward a number of recommendations from the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC), who are determined to tackle this escalating problem.
Mr O’Brien says new powers need to be implemented to make it compulsory for all dog owners to take steps to prevent their dogs escaping from their homes. There also needs to be legislation to make it compulsory for dog owners to report their dog’s involvement in attacks on livestock.
In Northern Ireland, local Councils are tasked with the responsibility of dealing with all incidences of livestock worrying. Last year two dog owners received destruction orders to have their dogs destroyed, while £2324 was collected in fines from dog owners whose pets had engaged in incidences of livestock worrying.
Mr O’Brien continued: “The emotional and financial stress endured by farmers who lose stock to dog attacks is under-estimated. For pregnant ewes, the stress of escaping a dog attack can cause miscarriage and death. In some cases, ewes injured following a dog attack may have to be put down; that is a difficult decision for a farmer and one that can lead to costly veterinary bills. Any attack on sheep is also an attack on the farmer’s livelihood.
“The UFU would encourage all members to report incidences of livestock worrying to the PSNI and their local dog warden as and when they occur. The PSNI should also be given more power to raid homes in order to seize dogs that repeatedly worry livestock.”
NFU Mutual has reported an increase of almost 70% since 2015 in UK wide claims in relation to incidences of livestock worrying.