Cam­paign safe­guard­ing live­stock prior to lamb sea­son

Stirling Observer - - FRONT PAGE - Robert Fairnie

Dog own­ers in the Stir­ling area are be­ing warned that their pets could be killed if they are found to be wor­ry­ing sheep.

A cam­paign to raise aware­ness of live­stock wor­ry­ing was launched this week by the Scot­tish Part­ner­ship Against Ru­ral Crime, with Po­lice Scot­land, Scot­tish Land and Es­tates and other or­gan­i­sa­tions.

The aim is to urge dog own­ers who live in or walk their dogs in the coun­try­side to act re­spon­si­bly and keep their pets un­der close con­trol.

A dog at­tack­ing, chas­ing or even be­ing at large in a field where sheep are kept can lead to sig­nif­i­cant in­jury which of­ten re­sults in the sheep be­ing killed. Such at­tacks have a fi­nan­cial and emo­tional im­pact on the farmer while caus­ing im­mense suf­fer­ing to the an­i­mals.

The Ob­server re­ported last year that a sheep farmer in the Dun­blane area had hit out at dog own­ers who al­low their pets to run free among his ewes af­ter four were at­tacked in one week.

One an­i­mal was dragged through a field by its leg by what was de­scribed as a brown and white col­lie and six days later one sheep was found dead and two oth­ers in­jured af­ter a re­ported al­sa­tian at­tack.

Farmer Dun­can McNicol said last March: “Dog own­ers seem to think it’s okay to let their an­i­mals loose for a run in the fields. There is a pub­lic path run­ning through but peo­ple still need to keep their dogs on a lead.

“I’ve lost one an­i­mal and I’m not sure if the other three will sur­vive. Peo­ple just don’t un­der­stand the harm their pets can cause.”

In a sep­a­rate in­ci­dent we re­ported in July that a lamb had to be de­stroyed in Kil­learn af­ter a “hor­rific” dog at­tack.

Leg­is­la­tion states that if a dog wor­ries live­stock on agri­cul­tural land then the per­son in charge is guilty of a crim­i­nal of­fence.

To pro­tect the live­stock the farmer has the right to kill the of­fend­ing dog while the owner can be charged with an of­fence, fined up to £1000 and made to pay a com­pen­sa­tion or­der. The lo­cal au­thor­ity can also ap­ply to have the dog de­stroyed.

Katy Dick­son, se­nior pol­icy of­fi­cer for Scot­tish Land and Es­tates, said: “The im­pacts of live­stock wor­ry­ing are not al­ways ob­vi­ous but they can be dev­as­tat­ing to the an­i­mals, the farmer and the busi­ness.

“We urge re­spon­si­ble be­hav­iour from any­one ac­cess­ing ru­ral ar­eas where live­stock may be present and for any­one wit­ness­ing such crime to re­port it.”

The new cam­paign is be­ing launched to co­in­cide with the start of the spring lamb­ing pe­riod as this is when sheep are at great­est risk.

And Cal­lan­der-based in­spec­tor Gerry McMen­emy added: “The dev­as­tat­ing im­pacts of a dog at­tack are ev­i­dent and can­not be over­stated, but sig­nif­i­cant dam­age can be caused by a dog sim­ply be­ing in a field. Preg­nant ewes can abort their lambs or lambs can be sep­a­rated from their moth­ers, caus­ing dis­tress or in some cases mal­nu­tri­tion.

“Our ad­vice to dog own­ers in ru­ral ar­eas is to en­sure their an­i­mal is 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.

“I’d urge farm­ers and any­one else us­ing the coun­try­side to re­port all in­stances of live­stock wor­ry­ing to po­lice on 101 or 999 in an emer­gency.

Farm­ers and landown­ers are be­ing en­cour­aged to put signs up on gate­ways, along with key paths and roads, alert­ing dog own­ers to the pres­ence of sheep and lambs.

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