DOG walkers are being warned to keep their pets on a lead on open access land in an attempt to cut the number of sheep deaths.

The National Trust has issued a seasonal reminder for owners to keep tight control of their dogs during lambing season.

Farmers say even the chasing of sheep can cause exhaustion and stillbirths.

On open access land dogs have to be kept on short leads from March 1 to July 31.

Mike Innerdale, assistant director of operations for the National Trust in the North West, said: “We know the devastating impact that sheep worrying can have on a farm’s livelihood.

“By keeping your dog on a lead, you can be sure that you’re protecting livestock and helping to keep the countryside special.”