DOG owners are being urged to keep their pets under control after a spate of deer attacks in the New Forest.
Over the last few weeks Forestry England has received a series of reports of dogs chasing, harassing and in some chases injuring deer. This is of particular concern at a time when many female deer will be pregnant.
In a bid to limit attacks on wildlife and grazing animals, Forestry England and Hampshire Constabulary are now advising owners to ensure dogs are kept close by and in sight at all times.
Leads should be used by owners who are not confident their dogs will return promptly on command. As with any rural area, owners should also ensure dogs do not stray into areas where you do not have right of access.
It is a criminal offence to worry livestock under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953.
New Forest keeper for Forestry England, Sandy Shore, said: “Dogs play a large part in Forest life. To keep them, wildlife and livestock on the Forest safe, we ask that dog owners act responsibly and ensure their dogs are supervised at all times.
“As an owner myself, I know that even the best trained dogs can get carried away when out on the open Forest. That’s why it is essential that people keep their pets under control or, better still, keep them on a lead if you cannot entirely trust them.”
Hampshire Constabulary’s country watch and wildlife crime officer, Matt Thelwell, added: “I would like to remind owners of the importance of being in full control of their dog when in the countryside and around grazing and wild animals.
“Owners often voice surprise when their dog chases animals, but this is an innate part of a dog’s behaviour and they will instinctively chase and injure animals given the opportunity.”
He added: “Anyone witnessing an incident is encouraged to report this to us by calling 101. This will help us take action and build up a better picture of the scale of this issue in the Forest.”