North and North East police were called regarding more than 240 cases of dogs worrying livestock over the last five years, according to new figures.
Questions by Scottish Conservative shadow rural economy secretary Peter Chapman found that the Highland region accounted for 110 attacks reported to Police Scotland in that time. Aberdeenshire saw 91 reports, Moray 24 and Aberdeen City 19.
In Tayside and Fife, there were 95 total reports, with 43 in Perth & Kinross, 38 in Fife and 14 in Angus. All offences were recorded under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 so the number of incidents may be higher.
According to Police Scotland, 338 incidents of livestock worrying were reported to them in 2018 alone, involving sheep, cattle, horses, llamas and alpacas. But only 131 were investigated due to evidential constraints.
North East region MSP Mr Chapman supports NFU Scotland’s “Take a Lead” campaign which called for legislative changes.
A Members’ Bill has been discussed in the Scottish Parliament for the past two years but it yet to be debated.
Mr Chapman said strengthening of existing police powers will take the burden off councils currently issuing fixed penalty notices.
He said: “A dog off the lead near livestock doesn’t necessarily end in an attack although a fright can lead to animals miscarrying.
“When a dog does attack, it can be horrific for animals and farmers dealing with the consequences. The responsibility for this is with dog owners.
“At the moment, police are able to charge a very small number of offenders, and the fines levied by courts are nowhere near enough to compensate the losses faced by farmers.
“So I support any bill which will look at updating the existing legislation, upping fines and other penalties against irresponsible owners, as well as giving police more powers to collect evidence.”