A LAKE District National Park ranger is calling for better control of dogs following a ‘savage’ attack on two pregnant ewes at Bowness. The incident, reported last week, has prompted Steve Tatlock to call for pet owners to take more control of their canines when out and about in the countryside. “Police are asking for information and in turn we are appealing to dog owners to take special care of their pets near sheep,” he said. “Most walkers are sensitive to the needs of wildlife when out with their dogs, but the thoughtless minority can and do cause havoc. “This is a very sensitive and important time. A dog chasing lambing sheep can cause them to abort and, in the worst cases, kill the ewe. “Farmers have reported some sickening cases over the years and ultimately they have a defence for shooting dogs in the protection of their animals. “This is obviously a last resort, but sometimes they have no other choice.” The incident in Bowness occurred when dogs tore the ears off a pair of ewes and left their faces gashed. And Mr Tatlock said sheep are not the only animals at risk. “Lambing time coincides with ground nesting birds producing their offspring, which are also at great risk from attack,” continued Mr Tatlock. “Species such as curlew, lapwing, snipe and grouse have nests disturbed by dogs and their chicks scattered. “And once away from the nest, their chances of survival plummet. We’ve seen a worrying decline in numbers and must do all we can to protect them.” He explained that by law dogs must be controlled so that they do not scare or disturb livestock or wildlife. On open access land they have to be kept on short leads between March 1 and July 31. This extends to cover the whole year when dogs are near sheep. Anyone with information about the Bowness incident is asked to report it to Cumbria Police on 101 or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Advice on dog control can be found on www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk or www.thekennelclub.org.uk
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