Dog owners are urged to keep their pets under control when visiting Dartmoor in a police crackdown on livestock attacks.
The message comes from Devon and Cornwall Police after officers from the rural crime team raised awareness of livestock worrying on Dartmoor.
Police said some of the highest rates of dog attacks to livestock are reported from the Dartmoor area.
Karla Mckechnie, Dartmoor livestock protection officer, said: “Having a dog is a massive responsibility which is further increased when you bring your dog to Dartmoor.
“Farmers have witnessed and suffered the consequences of out of control dogs over the years and we are asking dog owners to keep their dogs under control and take the necessary steps in ensuring their dogs are trained and kept on leads around livestock at all times.”
Sara Sloman, of Dartmoor Commoners Council, said: “Education and awareness are key tools in highlighting the sensitive issue of livestock worrying.
“All the animals on Dartmoor are owned and Dartmoor is a living and working environment that needs to be safe.
“Many commoners have lost animals through livestock worrying which has caused both emotional and financial strain on their livelihood.
“The message is very simple – please keep your dog on a lead around livestock.”
PC Martin Beck, Devon and Cornwall Police rural crime officer, said: “It’s really important and easy to put a stop to the suffering cause by dog attacks on livestock.
“Responsible dog walkers keep their dogs under close control and, when near sheep, on a lead.
“What you may think is your dog playing with sheep could be livestock worrying and a criminal offence.”
He added: “We have been in the national parks around Okehampton and Tavistock and will be working with the police teams on Dartmoor over the summer to highlight the issue.
“We hope with the help of dog walkers and local people we can reduce the number of attacks.”
Devon and Cornwall Police said there have been 500 dog attacks reported by farmers across the region over the last five years.
Police believe the number of attacks could be higher as some go unreported.
Rural officers last week joined patrols with Dartmoor Park Rangers, Dartmoor Livestock Protection Officer and a representative of the Dartmoor Commoners Council to speak to visitors and residents about livestock worrying.
Ian Brooker, Dartmoor National Park ranger, said: “We work in partnership and with the community to make the park a safe place to live and visit.
“It is time to remind people about the importance of controlling dogs on the moor so we don’t have livestock and ground nesting birds harmed.”
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To report livestock attacks, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.
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