DOG walkers are being urged to keep their pets under control after a series of vicious canine attacks have seen a number of lambs killed over the last month.

Water company United Utilities owns and maintains the moorland around Clough Bottom Reservoir and the sheep belong to one of its tenant farmers.

So far five lambs have been killed and one was so badly injured it had to be put down.

The company is putting up extra signs warning people to keep their dogs leashed and is calling on owners to act responsibly.

James and Shirley Cropper, from Irwell House Farm near Bacup, have said the incidents at Windy Bank and White Hill have cost them hundreds of pounds and a great deal of distress.

Mrs Cropper said: "There seem to be more and more people coming onto the hills around the farm to exercise their dogs, including professional dog-walkers arriving with large numbers of dogs.

“The Right to Roam legislation means people can access the moors where livestock are grazing and that’s why they need to obey the rules and keep dogs under control.

“Unfortunately we have had signs ripped down and some people are verbally abusive when we ask them to put their dogs on a lead.

"The attacks have been difficult from a financial point of view, but worse than that is seeing the suffering of the animals, which is very distressing.

"United Utilities is doing what it can, but the dog owners themselves must take responsibility."

Dan Fowler, land agent at United Utilities, said: "This is a growing problem. When a lamb is attacked it can be extremely traumatic for the animals involved, the farmer and the dog owner - who is often taken completely by surprise by their pet's behaviour.

“Extra signs have been put up around the reservoir and we will be reporting all offenders to the local police.

"If you are coming to Clough Bottom, please, please, obey the law, and keep your dog under control.”

Owners face arrest for criminal damage if livestock belonging to a farmer is attacked and damaged and the dog could be destroyed.