CONCERNS over a steep rise in sheep worrying by dogs are forcing one Herefordshire farmer to get tough.
Horrifying attacks on animals kept on land at Newburn Farm near Kington have left a trail of misery for farmer William Laurie, whose sheep have been killed or maimed in a series of cases over the last few years.
Taking advice from police, Mr Laurie has issued a warning that any dogs seen attacking sheep on the 600-acre farm will be shot.
"It's been a constant problem for the last few years," said Mr Laurie, whose family has farmed at Newburn Farm for over 30 years. The most recent case of sheep worrying has persuaded him to take a tougher line.
"This is the first time I've felt compelled to issue this warning," he said.
"Since Kington has expanded the problem has got worse."
There have been a wave of similar attacks across the county, and dog owners have been urged to keep their pets under control.
Having spoken to local police officers, Mr Laurie posted a warning on the Facebook page, Kington Chat: "We keep having incidents of dog worrying in the field adjacent to Kington Park," he wrote. "This morning a black Labrador was loose in the field amongst ewes and young lambs. It ran back through the southern corner in to Estate. Please keep your dogs secure as I won't hesitate in shooting in future. This problem is getting worse! Thank you."
While he has "absolutely no intention" of walking his land carrying a gun, he said he would reserve the right to shoot any loose dog chasing sheep in his fields.
"People have suggested not putting sheep out there, but that is really not an option," he said.
While the farm was in a "unique" position because of its close proximity to the town, he said the problem had only developed in the last few years.
Mr Laurie reported a recent case of two terriers attacking his sheep. "Four sheep had to be put down and others were maimed," he said. "The flock was absolutely terrorised. When we went in amongst the sheep, they grouped around us for safety, they were terrified."
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