POLICE have stepped up patrols following a rise in livestock worrying.

Sussex Police Rural Crime Team has increased its presence in and around Telscombe in an attempt to combat the issue.

“We've seen an increase in reports of livestock worrying around Telscombe,” a spokeswoman said.

“We're stepping up patrols and will challenge anyone whose dogs are not under close control in agricultural fields, as per legislation.

“Always safest to keep your dogs on a lead.”

Earlier this year, dog owners were warned to keep their pets under control during lambing season amid a fear of sheep worrying.

When dogs chase or attack sheep it can cause injury and suffering and make them abort their lambs.

The spokesman said: “Sheep worrying is illegal, and has serious effects including stress, injury, abortion and death. It also has a devastating impact on owners seeing their animals suffer from the ordeal and financial costs.

“If you see sheep worrying happening, make the right call and dial 999.”

The maximum penalty for a dog owner is a fine of up to £1,000 compensation and costs.

The police also have the powers to detain a dog suspected of worrying livestock if there is no owner present, and can also obtain a warrant to enter premises to identify a dog.

In November last year, nine sheep were killed and a further 140 had abortions after a spree of dog attacks in West Sussex.

Eight pregnant ewes were killed on Gumber Farm in Slindon on November 11 after a “prolonged period of worrying”, which has cost a farmer more than £1,500.

On the same day, a sheep was killed and two were injured during an attack at a farm in London Road, Washington.

Two husky dogs escaped from a nearby garden, according to police. They were captured by the shepherd and taken to a Durrington Police Station to be identified by their owner.

Earlier that month, three sheep died and a further nine suffered bite injuries, after being attacked by a dog in a field in Clothalls Farm, West Grinstead.