Dog walkers are being urged to keep their pets on a lead if they are near sheep in the coming weeks.
Having respect for farming and crofting enterprises by acting responsibly with dogs this spring is a must.
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code is very clear when it comes to the responsibilities that dog owners have, especially at this time of year when the fields are full of pregnant ewes or young lambs.
With lambing time approaching, all dog owners are being reminded that should their pets chase or worry sheep, this could result in prosecution and potentially the loss of their dog.
Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) board member and farmer Anne Rae MacDonald said: ‘Pregnant ewes and newborn lambs are extremely vulnerable at this time of year and should not be worried by dogs that have been allowed to run loose. The consequences can be devastating – and fatal – as a direct result of chasing or attacks by dogs that are not in control.
‘Dog owners should also be aware that calving time is on the horizon too and our keep dogs on leads message refers to all livestock.’
David Clyne, recreation and access manager at the CNPA said: ‘Please remember your dog is your responsibility so always make sure you are prepared and take a lead when you are out in the outdoors. Please take notice of any advice or signage and remember that it is best to have your dog on a short lead at all times near farmland during the lambing season. There are lots of places where you can let your dog off the lead safely, for ideas have a look at your local community paths leaflet or ask your local Countryside Ranger.’
Last month Police Scotland launched their annual campaign against sheep worrying and stressed to dog owners that their pet could be killed if it is found to be in the presence of sheep, even if it has not physically attacked them or chased them. The warning is part of a partnership campaign involving Police Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, National Farmers Union Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates and the Kennel Club, to raise awareness amongst dog owners about the devastating effects of livestock worrying.
According to Police Scotland a total of 338 incidents of livestock worrying were reported to them in 2018, with 131 incidents resulting in police conducting investigations.
Inspector Alan Dron, Police Scotland rural crimeco-ordinator added: ‘Tackling livestock attacks and distress caused by a dog is a priority for the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC). It is vitally important all owners understand the impact caused, whether it be the pain animals suffer or the emotional and financial distress that can be caused to farmers and would urge owners to remember Your Dog – Your Responsibility.’
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code provides comprehensive advice for dog walkers and all aspects of accessing the Scottish countryside in a safe manner for everyone. If anyone witnesses an incident of livestock worrying they should contact Police Scotland on 101 or 999 in an emergency.