Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP, Liz Smith, has claimed that the Scottish Government must address significant increases in the number of dog attacks taking place in rural Scotland.
Data from insurer NFU Mutual found the attacks, known as sheep worrying, cost Scottish farmers £330,000 last year and the number of cases has risen by 67% in the past two years.
This came despite a 13.4% rise in the cost of rural crime across the United Kingdom over the same period.
When Police Scotland launched a rural crime strategy last year there was no strategy to tackle livestock worrying, an oversight that Liz Smith believes is contributing to an increasing number of attacks.
Furthermore, it was also revealed that just 10% of all reported incidents of sheep worrying result in conviction.
Commenting Liz Smith MSP said:
“These statistics highlight what we already know: that is, there has been a huge spike in dog attacks and incidents of livestock worrying across Scotland.
“During lambing season there have been a number of shocking incidents in Perth and Kinross where livestock have been killed as a result of dog attacks. Tougher penalties are needed to prevent this type of crime.
“Ultimately, the police need to take the concerns of farmers seriously and the authorities must put in place robust rural crime strategies to cut down on livestock crime.
“Every dog has a natural instinct to run and chase down sheep and even if livestock exhibits no physical injuries the stress caused by this can cause pregnant ewes to abort their lambs. Even the simple presence of dogs in fields alongside livestock can have serious implications.
“In addition to tougher penalties, combatting this crime will require the public to have greater awareness of not only the serious consequences of livestock worrying but of their own responsibilities when out and about in the countryside.”