There is a huge variation in the financial penalties which can be handed out for sheep worrying across different regions of the UK.

A livestock protection law was recently passed in Scotland which sets a maximum fine of £40,000, with a prison term of up to 12 months also possible.

However, in NI, England and Wales, the maximum fine for offences relating to livestock attacks by dogs is just £1,000.

New proposals for England and Wales aim to increase powers for police to seize dogs that were involved in livestock worrying, but the National Sheep Association (NSA) argue that fines should also be increased in line with Scotland.

“This was an opportunity to create a major deterrent to this antisocial behaviour by substantially increasing the maximum applicable fine alongside more proactive measures to prevent attacks occurring,” said NSA chief executive Phil Stocker.

The NSA points out that the government has recently set out plans to introduce tougher penalties for animal cruelty, with the maximum prison sentence rising from six months to five years, and a new range of unlimited fines proposed.

“The injury and stress involved when sheep and other livestock are attacked results in serious animal cruelty and should be subject to similar maximum penalties and deterrents,” said Stocker.