A North Yorkshire MP has called for the law to change to give authorities more powers to investigate livestock worrying.

A proposal to change the law to clarify what constitutes an offence and to give the authorities greater powers to investigate suspected offences will be discussed in parliament next year.

Scarborough and Whitby Sir Robert Goodwill, who is also chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) select committee, said that he supported the legislation because of increased dog attacks that harmed animals and farmers.

In May, North Yorkshire Police said that 39 sheep in the county had already died after being attacked or scared by dogs.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Sir Robert Goodwill

Sir Robert said: “Dog attacks on sheep have increased over recent years.

“This not only has a profound effect on the welfare of the sheep themselves – often leading to abortion or animals having to be euthanised but also really hits the pockets of hard-pressed farmers in marginal areas like the North York Moors.”

The proposed legal change is an amendment to the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Bill and has received support from more than ten Conservative MPs.

It proposes changing the law “about the offence of livestock worrying, including changes to what constitutes an offence and increased powers for investigation of suspected offences; and for connected purposes”.

Farmers are allowed to shoot dogs if they are causing distress to livestock and cannot be controlled and sheep worrying can result in a fine of up to £1,000 for dog owners.

According to North Yorkshire Police, there has been a considerable increase in the number of dog owners visiting the countryside since the Covid-19 pandemic and they have called for better awareness of the law.