Dog walkers are being urged to keep their pets under control when they’re walking in the countryside around Rivington Reservoir after ten sheep were killed at a local farm.

North West water company, United Utilities, owns and maintains the land around the reservoir, and the sheep belong to its tenant farmer Megan Needham of Higher Knoll Farm, Bolton.

Megan has called on dog walkers to keep their animals on a lead when they’re crossing fields.

“I’m a dog lover myself,” said Megan.

“I’m not telling dog owners to stop walking their dogs in the countryside, I’m just asking them to be respectful when crossing farm fields and put their dogs on a lead as they may not know there are sheep in there.

“The size of the dog has no bearing on the amount of damage they can do. If a ewe that’s carrying a lamb is chased by a dog, they could get so stressed that they abort the lamb or die of shock.”

Dan Fowler, land agent at United Utilities, said: "This problem has got significantly worse recently and can be extremely traumatic for the farmer and dog owner involved.

"Extra signs have been put up around Rivington reservoir and our staff and farm tenants will be reporting all offenders to the local police. 

“It’s a criminal offence to allow a dog to attack and maim livestock and if found guilty the dog owners could face prosecution and have their dog seized and destroyed.

"Dogs chasing and worrying sheep is an issue across other areas of our estate, it isn’t just limited to the Rivington area. If you are walking your dog in the countryside please obey the law and keep your dog under control,” he added