A Police Scotland co-ordinated rural crime campaign has seen livestock worrying drop by nearly 40 percent during the spring lambing season, compared to last year.
The three-month campaign saw 43 incidents reported, with all but two cases involving sheep.
Like last year, most incidents involved only one dog; in more than half of all cases (53%) in 2017, the offending dog was local to the area and was either roaming free or otherwise not under proper control.
Sheep are almost always the animals affected, in all but two of the 43 recorded incidents, and in 86% of cases, livestock was either injured or died as a result of the incident.
This campaign, the third since Spring 2016, has also led to an increase in prosecutions with almost three times as many people convicted of livestock worrying offences in 2015 and 2016 than in 2014 and direct measure penalties (fiscal fine and compensation) increasing threefold in 2016 compared to 2015.
Inspector Jane Donaldson, Police Scotland Rural Crime Co-ordinator said: “I am encouraged with this reduction in livestock worrying crimes compared to the same period last year and grateful for the support of our partners, in particular NFU Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Kennel Club to raise awareness of this crime, encourage farmers to report incidents and to educate dog owners.
“The effects of livestock worrying on farmers cannot be underestimated – the loss of any animals will devastate a farmer, and can also have a significant financial impact.
"These crimes are wholly preventable and a key part of this campaign has been to educate dog owners on their responsibilities whether they live in rural areas or when they’re walking or exercising their animals in the countryside and by working with partners we hope the message is being taken on board and reflected in the reduction in the number of cases of livestock worrying which have been reported to Police Scotland.”
“Dog owners living near farmland should never let their dog out unaccompanied and must ensure that their garden is secure. Anyone exercising their dogs in the countryside should keep them under proper control at all times went out walking, never let their dogs enter fields where livestock is grazing and to adhere, at all times, to the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
"Following these simple rules will keep both dogs and livestock safe and ensure everyone can enjoy the countryside.”