NEIL Hamilton, AM for Mid & West Wales and Leader of UKIP Wales, is appealing to dog owners to keep their pets under control in the countryside.
Mr Hamilton’s call comes following a warning from NFU Mututal who are urging farmers to watch out for livestock worrying, as the cost of claims has reached a record level.
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. In the last two years the average cost of a claim rose by over 50% to nearly £1,300.
New research by the insurer has revealed that over 80 per cent of dog owners exercise their pets in the countryside, with over 60 per cent letting them roam off the lead. Seven per cent of owners admitted that their pets had chased livestock in the past.
In Wales, the cost of claims reported to the insurance company was £15,000 in 2015, rising to £21,000 in 2017.
Mr Hamilton, Party Spokesman for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said the figures were of concern and urged dog owners to make sure their pets were under control.
He said: “This rising trend is worrying and dog owners need to take responsibility and make sure their pets are kept on leads near livestock. Some may think they can guarantee their pet will not harass the animals but better be safe than sorry.
“Of course, everyone enjoys walking dogs in the countryside, but no-one wants to see unnecessary suffering caused to sheep or other livestock. The reality is that a dog allowed to roam off a leash can cause distress and injury to sheep, in particular, and everyone needs to be extra vigilant.”
The National Farmers Union Cymru advises walkers to keep dogs under close control or on a lead when walking in the countryside where there may be livestock.
Last week, a report from the National Police Chief’s Council showed that there had been nearly 500 attacks on livestock by dogs recorded by North Wales Police between 2013 -2017.
“These figures are simply not acceptable and I would urge dog owners to take more care controlling their pets and be more Sheep Aware.” added Mr Hamilton.