Emma takes lead on worrying issue
Proposals for new legislation governing livestock worrying have been warmly welcomed by NFU Scotland.
The union has been campaigning for stricter laws to address increasing dog attacks on sheep across the country.
Now South of Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper is to consult on a Members’ Bill at Holyrood designed to tackle the issue.
Ms Harper announced the move at a National Sheep Association reception in the Scottish Parliament recently.
The MSP decided action was needed after receiving strong representations from farmers and agricultural organisations.
Ms Harper wants to ensure the “consolidation of various forms of legislation” which touch on livestock worrying.
She said: “Research has indicated that current legislation either doesn’t adequately make reference to livestock and wildlife worrying or is not strong enough to prevent it.
“Also, the Scottish Outdoor Access Code does not specifically make it an obligation to keep dogs under strict control when accessing the countryside and working fields – nor does it give clear guidance on penalties which can be imposed on culprits.”
“The new bill would be concise, understandable and give clear guidance on the responsibility of dog owners.
“It will also allow for the establishment of consequences for breaches of the proposed legislation.”
She added: “Livestock worrying is an enormous issue which I know is of concern to people across the agricultural sector.
“Irresponsible dog owners who allow their dogs to roam the countryside out of control to worry, attack and mutilate livestock is harmful not just to animal welfare but can have severe financial implications for farmers.
“I would encourage all to feed into the consultation and I look forward to engaging with stakeholders.”
NFU Scotland said clear new powers were needed to deal with livestock worrying.
President Andrew McCornick, from Lochfoot, said: “I am delighted that Emma Harper is taking a Members’ Bill to the Scottish Parliament and I look forward to working with her to push through this badly needed legislative change.
“NUFS is leading the charge on this issue, as we recognise the cost to industry caused by uncontrolled dogs.
“Livestock worrying is an issue which is affecting farmers the length and breadth of Scotland.
“It is undeniable that there has been a serious increase in the number of incidents reported.
“We know that a huge number of instances go unreported, so the real scale of the issue is likely to be even greater than what is in the public domain.”
Leading the way: South of Scotland MSP Emma Harper, pictured here with her Border collie Maya, wants tougher laws to tackle livestock worrying