REVEALED: The ‘growing problem’ of livestock worrying affecting Scottish farmers

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Police statistics have revealed that the number of livestock worrying incidents across Scotland has more than doubled in the last 10 years.

The figures show that 175 offences were recorded under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 last year – up from 81 in 2008.

The information was provided to local MSP Peter Chapman through a parliamentary question.

Its publication follows a recent alleged incident at a farm near Turriff in which two dogs killed 37 lambs.

A man was charged by police in connection with the alleged offence in the north-east earlier this month.

Mr Chapman said that while police were doing “as much as possible” to prevent farmland attacks, the onus was on dog owners to keep their pets on a leash while out walking near livestock in fields.

He added: “These figures confirm anecdotal evidence we have been hearing for some time that this is a growing problem across Scotland.

“It is a particular issue for people who farm close to urban areas. For many, the risk from dogs is just too great and will make anyone think twice about keeping livestock.

“There have been several high profile incidents in recent weeks and months.

“This can be absolutely devastating for farmers.

“We are talking about people’s livelihoods here. The consequences can be very serious indeed.”

The National Sheep Association teamed up with the Scottish SPCA to launch a nationwide campaign to crack down on sheep worrying in April.

On the same day, a young farmer in Aberchirder had to kill one of his lambs after eight were mauled by a dog that had jumped his fence.

Lawrence Hensley, of Thorax Farm, said the attack cost him about £700. He found the bloodied bodies of his stock after returning to his farm which is based near Banff.

The 27-year-old farmer described the discovery as a “soul destroying” sight.