Dog owners are being urged to keep their dogs under control around animals after a series of horrifying attacks on sheep.
The Wildlife Trust says dog attacks on sheep are becoming an increasingly frequent problem on their nature reserves where sheep are grazing.
Two recent attacks in Northamptonshire and one in Bedfordshire have resulted in three dead and several badly injured and traumatised sheep.
Trust bosses are urgently appealing to all dog owners to make sure that their dogs – and those of others – are kept on leads anywhere near livestock.
Attacks can happen unexpectedly and in an instant.
A recent attack in Yarwell was witnessed by Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust Grazing Manager Cathy Wainwright.
She said: “I was parked on a verge next to one of our nature reserves when a dog got into the field and started attacking the sheep. The speed and ferocity was terrifying and horrific; I jumped over the fence to try and get the dog off while my colleague ran up the road to the owners.
“I think the dog would have killed the sheep within seconds if we hadn’t been there; it didn’t want to leave the sheep even with me yelling at it.
“It had hold of the ewe by one front leg, near the top, had her pinned to the ground against the fence and was shaking her violently.
“The result was deep bites to the leg and neck and lots of blood.
“The owner was as horrified as I was and once she caught the dog was very cooperative.”
In a more severe attack at Twyell in Northants last month two sheep died.
Despite the presence of grazing signs at nature reserves on all of the entrance points with clear requests to keep dogs on lead, dog walkers are still regularly seen with dogs off leads.
It is hugely important, especially as the season of lambing approaches, to always keep dogs on leads anywhere near livestock and to encourage those you know or who you may see walking near livestock to encourage them to be responsible owners.