§ Mr. Geraint Howells
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many sheep have been killed by dogs in England during the last six months; what were the corresponding figures for the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Strang
Statistics on this, based on police returns to local authorities, are available only for complete calendar years. Those for 1977 and the previous decade are as follows:
Sheep killed by dogs in England 1967–1977 Year No. 1967 2,785 1968 1,923 1969 2,500 1970 2,417 1971 1,921 1972 1,963 1973 2,574 1974 (a) 1975 2,067 1976 1,788 1977 1,856
Note: (a) Not available owing to local Government reorganisation.
I am advised that no significant trend can be discerned in these figures, and I accept that sheep losses of this kind continue to give cause for concern. However, the hon. Member will be aware that the Animals Act 1971 provides a defence for owners of livestock who take reasonable action against marauding dogs and that under the Criminal Justice Act 1977 owners of dogs that worry livestock are now exposed to a far higher maximum fine.