Dog walkers warned of ‘devastating’ impact of livestock worrying

Sheep and lambThe campaign coincides with lambing season when sheep are at greatest risk of attack

Police Scotland has launched a campaign to raise awareness among dog owners of the “devastating” effects of livestock worrying.

The three-month campaign coincides with the spring lambing period when sheep are at greatest risk from dog attacks.

Last month, a farmer shot two dogs that escaped from a yard in Clackmannanshire and attacked his sheep, which were later destroyed.

The campaign aims to ensure that owners keep their dogs under close control.

Scottish Natural Heritage and the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime, which includes Police Scotland, the National Farmers Union of Scotland and Scottish Land and Estates, are behind the campaign.

‘Significant damage’

Insp Jane Donaldson, Police Scotland rural crime co-ordinator, said: “Livestock worrying can occur when a dog attacks, chases or, in the case of sheep, is at large in a field where livestock is kept.

“The devastating effects of a dog attack are evident and cannot be overstated but significant damage can also be caused by a dog simply being present in a field.

“Pregnant ewes can abort their lambs or lambs can be separated from their mothers, causing distress and in some cases malnutrition.”

Insp Donaldson said the campaign would encourage farmers and landowners to put up signs on gateways and paths alerting dog walkers to the presence of sheep in their fields.

She said: “The advice to anyone walking and exercising their dogs in the countryside is to ensure that they are under control at all times and avoid going into fields where livestock is grazing.

“The Scottish Outdoor Access Code says that dogs shouldn’t be taken into fields where there are lambs or other young farm animals.”

‘Natural instinct’

Theresa Kewell, from Scottish Natural Heritage, said: “We may not think our family pet is capable of causing injury.

“But it is a dog’s natural instinct to chase, so think ahead when you’re out for your walk, about what might tempt your dog to run off, and ensure you keep them under proper control”.

Six sheep were badly injured in the dog attack near Kennet village in Clackmannanshire last month.

A Forth Valley Police spokesperson said the farmer was legally allowed to shoot the dogs in order to stop them attacking his livestock.

A 54-year-old man was reported to the procurator fiscal following the incident.

Article taken from:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-tayside-central-35695843

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