DEVON & Cornwall Police are supporting Op Recall - a national operation launched by Cheshire Police, the RSPCA and Naturewatch Foundation which aims to raise awareness of the impact of livestock worrying, and prevent future livestock attacks.

During 2023, Devon & Cornwall police received 140 reports of attacks on livestock.

As a result of these attacks hundreds of sheep were killed either during the attack or later, as a result of the extensive injuries they received.  

A recent report from the National Farmers’ Union released in February 2024, confirmed that dog attacks on livestock throughout the UK were estimated to cost £2.4 million last year, up nearly 30% compared to the previous year. The report stated that South West region was the worst-hit region, with attacks estimated to have cost £359,000.

To raise awareness about the consequences of livestock attacks, Rural Affairs Officers and local policing teams will be supported by Special Constables and volunteers to engage with the public and provide advice on how to reduce livestock attacks across the counties.

Cornwall Rural Affairs Officer, Police Constable Julian Fry said: ‘Livestock worrying can have serious consequences so, if you’re walking your dog in an open space, make sure you dog is under effective control at all times; they should not be unaccompanied outside of the home and their behaviour should always be managed – especially around livestock.’

Livestock worrying is a criminal offence. It is also an offence if a dog is not on a lead or under close control in a field or enclosure of sheep.

Dog owners are reminded that farmers have the right to take appropriate action to protect their livestock from attacks, and the owner of dogs witnessed chasing or attacking livestock could receive six months' imprisonment and/or a fine of up to £1,000.

If you witness an attack on livestock, please do not intervene; keep yourself safe and call 999. Information relating to attacks on livestock that are not currently happening should be reported to the police online or by calling 101. Anonymous information can also be provided to CrimeStoppers online or by calling 0800 555 111.