Peak District dog-walkers are asked to keep their pets on short leads to protect young animals during the spring breeding season.
Mauled bodies of sheep carrying unborn lambs have already been found in the Peak District National Park this month.
Rangers are putting up signs across the national park reminding pet-owners to keep their dogs under control. By law, they must keep their dogs on a lead at any time around farm animals, and from March 1 to July 31 around wildlife.
Rangers north area manager Jenny Waller said: “Walking a dog is one of the joys of the countryside, but we ask all dog-owners to be responsible and keep their pets on short leads during this particularly sensitive time.
“Sheep and lambs can be badly injured or killed by uncontrolled dogs. Ground-nesting birds such as curlew and lapwing, and wild creatures such as hares, are also easily disturbed.
“For its own safety, never let a dog approach or chase wildlife and farm animals - your dog can get kicked, trampled or lost, and it could be legally shot for chasing farm animals. This is distressing not only for you but for farmers too.
“If cattle turn on your dog, it’s best to unclip the lead - a dog can usually look after itself, don’t risk getting hurt by trying to protect it. Get out of the field as quickly as possible, then call your dog as soon as you are out of danger.
“Legally, you do not have to use a lead on public paths, but you should be extra-vigilant in the breeding season, and always use a lead if you can’t rely on your dog’s obedience.”
The Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act requires people to keep their dogs on leads around wildlife between March 1 and July 31 and at any time near farm animals.
Dogs are not allowed at all on some areas at certain times to protect sensitive breeding sites – signs will indicate this.
To report incidents involving dogs on farmland or moors contact the police on 0345 123 3333. To ask for signs to go up in problem areas contact Peak District National Park rangers on 01629 816290 (weekdays).
For more advice read the Countryside Code at www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk.