POLICE are warning dog owners to keep their pets on leads while walking near livestock - or risk them getting shot by farmers.

Officers have had a number of reports of newborn lambs being bitten and pregnant ewes being chased or worried by loose dogs.

Officers and local farmers are keen to prevent any further incidents.

Police Constable Matt Duffy, a wildlife crime officer, said: “The lambing season is now well underway but there are still pregnant ewes on the moors.

“I’d like to remind dog walkers to keep their dogs on leads in areas where it is possible that there might be sheep or other livestock.

“Any dog can act on its natural instincts and chase a sheep, which may appear to be out of play or aggression, but can result in the sheep aborting a lamb or causing itself injury as it flees.

“We’ve had reports that some dog owners are challenging farmers who are asking for dogs to be put back on leads, so I’d like to advise those owners that you could face prosecution if your dog injures, kills or worries a sheep.

“It’s also worth bearing in mind that within the law, farmers can shoot any animal attacking their livestock. Please do not take that risk.”