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Livestock worrying now at an all-time high: farmers’ union

UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt
UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt
Member of the Scottish Parliament Emma Harper
Adrian Rutherford

By Adrian Rutherford

The number of livestock-worrying incidents in Northern Ireland has reached an all-time high, a farmers' union has said.

It has led to demands for politicians to do more to tackle the problem.

The Ulster Farmers' Union has called for proposals set out by the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) to be implemented here.

One suggestion is to create a database of dog DNA to help the PSNI catch dogs responsible for worrying livestock.

The UFU says livestock worrying is now at its highest level here.

Between April and December last year, dog wardens in Northern Ireland investigated 106 incidences, but just two owners were prosecuted.

And in March this year, NFU Mutual reported a 67% increase since 2015 in UK-wide claims, which cost the agricultural industry as a whole £1.6 million in 2017 alone.

The UFU described livestock worrying as a frustrating and costly problem.

It said the absence of Stormont makes addressing the issue more difficult, and has written to all MLAs, urging them to act quickly if the Executive is restored.

UFU deputy president Victor Chestnutt said: "In Northern Ireland, there is little legislation to protect farmers and their livestock.

"Having previously raised the issue with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), we believe action needs to be taken here similar to what is happening in Scotland."

Emma Harper, a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), is planning a Private Members Bill to tackle livestock worrying across the water.

Earlier this year, the NPCC called for greater powers to obtain DNA from dogs suspected of committing attacks, including a database of dog DNA to help the PSNI catch dogs responsible for worrying livestock.

The NPCC is also recommending that police be given powers to enter homes to seize dogs.

The UFU said it supports both proposals.

It has also called for a requirement for dog owners to have to report attacks on livestock and new rules on people taking action to prevent dogs escaping from their home.

Mr Chestnutt said that it is vital this is tackled more aggressively.

"We want our elected representatives to get behind the UFU to make the new proposals work in parallel with The Dogs (Northern Ireland) Order 1983," he said.

"All members should report incidents to the PSNI and their local dog warden."

Belfast Telegraph