INCIDENTS of livestock worrying increased in Devon and Cornwall throughout May according to Police.

Devon and Cornwall Police is reminding the public to keep dogs on leads when visiting Devon and Cornwall’s open spaces this bank holiday.

Livestock worrying is when a dog attacks or chases livestock, it is a criminal offence and can have a devastating impact on livestock, farmers and in some circumstances the dog and the owner.

Rural Affairs Officer for Devon and Cornwall Police, PC Chris Collins said: “We are hoping that by encouraging people to respect our countryside and communities this bank holiday we can also ensure responsible dog ownership and remind people of the law.

“All land is owned, and access is not a given right, so it is important that users of the countryside understand specific designations of land and ‘rights of way’.

"For example, on land which is designated as ‘access land’ a dog must be on a lead between March 1 and July 31 and at all times when livestock are present.

“Allowing dogs to chase or attack livestock is a criminal offence.

"Take notice of local signage, respect wildlife and any livestock around you, keeping your dog on a lead to protect livestock and ground nesting birds.

“If you witness an attack on livestock, do not intervene, keep yourself safe and call 999. All other information relating to attacks on livestock should be reported to the police online or by calling 101.”

Below are some useful free resources with tips about how to keep rural communities safe:

Do not feed livestock, horses or wild animals as it can cause them harm. Sheep are especially vulnerable at this time of year, so always keep dogs under control. On open access land, dogs should be kept on a lead at all times but please release your dog if it is chased by cattle.

Follow the countryside code and be considerate to those living there, working there and enjoying the countryside. View the Countryside Code here: .

Follow local signs and marked routes, leave gates as you find them and do not block access when parking. Keep to marked paths to protect crops and wildlife.

Protect the environment and historic features and take litter home. Avoid the risk of wildfire by not lighting fires or barbecues.

Be cautious when driving on rural roads, give livestock and other vulnerable road users plenty of space and remember to pass slowly and wide.