Farmers across the Peak District have reported a rise in the number of dogs attacking their livestock.
The increase has prompted calls from the Peak District National Park Authority for dog walkers to keep their pets on leads to protect young farm animals and wildlife.
National park ranger manager Jenny Waller said: “Walking a dog is one of the joys of the countryside, but we ask all dog owners to think about young animals and keep their pets on short leads during the breeding season of spring and early summer.
“Sheep and lambs can be badly injured or killed by uncontrolled dogs. For its own safety, never let a dog approach or chase farm animals or wildlife – your dog can get kicked, trampled or lost and it could be legally shot for chasing livestock.
“Cows will often defend their calves by turning on a dog. If that happens it’s best to unclip the lead – a dog can usually look after itself – and get out of the field as quickly as possible then call your pet as soon as you are out of danger.
“Legally, you do not have to use a lead on public paths, but you should be extra vigilant in the breeding season and always use a lead if you can’t rely on your dog’s obedience.”
Declining birds such as lapwing, curlew and snipe which nest on the ground are particularly vulnerable to harm from dogs roaming free or on long leads. For more advice read the Countryside Code at www.naturalengland.org.uk