POLICE are worried that the relaxation of the coronavirus restrictions has meant an increase in attacks on sheep as more people take their dogs into the countryside.

After three attacks in the past few weeks North Yorkshire police are producing posters warning owners about the dangers. Previous investigations by rural task force officers have revealed up to one in ten livestock attacks were repeat offenders involving owners whose dogs had worried or caused damage to livestock before. They say this highlights the importance of reporting all such incidents to the police to ensure they're aware of the extent of the problems.

Recent attacks involved two sheep at Selby which survived after treatment, in another incident a lamb was attacked on land near Thruscross Reservoir, Harrogate, which later died. Police issued a warning to the owner of the dog.

Now police are putting up Dogs Kill Livestock posters to make sure walkers are aware of the dangers. Estimates by NFU Mutual estimate livestock attacks nationally cost farmers £1.2m last year.

Inspector Matt Hagen, of North Yorkshire Police's Rural Taskforce, said: "We need dog owners to take responsibility for their animals, it’s very important that dogs are kept securely when at home, and on leads and under control when walking near sheep fields."