DOG walkers are being warned to keep their dogs under close supervision after a number of dog attacks on deer in the New Forest.

Forestry England and Hampshire Constabulary are asking owners to ensure all dogs are kept under close supervision when out walking.

Over recent weeks, Forestry England has received a series of reports of dogs chasing, harassing and in some chases injuring deer.

This is of particular concern at this time of year when many female deer will be pregnant.

Sandy Shore, New Forest Keeper, Forestry England said: “Dogs play a large part in Forest life.

"To keep them, wildlife and livestock on the Forest safe, we ask that dog owners act responsibly and ensure their dogs are supervised at all times.

"As an owner myself, I know that even the best trained dogs can get carried away when out on the open Forest.

"That’s why it is essential that people keep their pets under control or better still keep them on a lead if you cannot entirely trust them."

For dogs to worry livestock is a criminal offence contrary to the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953.

In such incidents, animals can be seriously injured or killed, and it is common for others witnessing this to die from shock.

Anyone who has witnessed an incident is encouraged to report it to the police via their website or 101, so that it can be dealt with appropriately.

Forestry England and the police are advising owners to ensure all dogs are supervised when walking in the New Forest, and to follow a few simple measures to limit the likelihood of attacks on wildlife and animals grazing on the Forest.

Owners are asked to ensure dogs are kept close by and in sight at all times.

A lead should be used if they are not confident that the dog will return to them promptly on command.

As with any rural area, owners should also ensure dogs do not stray into areas where you do not have right of access.

Matt Thelwell Country Watch and Wildlife Crime Officer, Hampshire Police, said: “I would like to remind owners of the importance of being in full control of their dog when in the countryside and around grazing and wild animals.

"Owners often voice surprise when their dog chases animals, but this is an innate part of a dog’s behaviour and they will instinctively chase and injure animals given the opportunity.

"Anyone witnessing an incident is encouraged to report this to us by calling 101. This will help us take action and build up a better picture of the scale of this issue in the Forest.”