A number of newly planted tree saplings in Leavesden Country Park have been savaged by dogs.

Offending dog owners are increasing their pets’ ferocity by encouraging them to break off pieces of tree bark and baiting their dog until it tears the strip from the trunk. The animal then attacks tree after tree until it the trunks are left bare in parts, leaving them open to disease and damage.

More than 30 apple trees were planted in Leavesden Country Park last year by park ranger Martin Brooks and several helpers from local primary schools.

Following a savage attack by dogs over the past few weeks, about seven of the trees now remain.

Roger Seabourne, councillor and chair of Three Rivers crime and safety partnership, said: “We have been very encouraged by the fact that crime has been falling across the district.

“In the past year crime fell by 12 per cent and is still the lowest in Hertfordshire.

“This makes the damage to the newly-planted apple tree saplings on the south side of the park all the more disappointing.

"The park ranger, along with many young volunteers from St Michaels Catholic High School and members of the county council probation service, have just completed vital environmental regeneration works, which will help make the area more visible, providing for even better safety and help to further prevent anti-social behaviour.

“The work will also encourage the growth of some native trees and hedges."