Plan to curb sheep at­tacks by dogs on for­est walks

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS - DE­CLAN O’BRIEN

A STRAT­EGY to en­cour­age the re­spon­si­ble con­trol of dogs on for­est walks has been agreed by IFA and Coillte.

The ini­tia­tive will be rolled out on Coillte walks in the Dublin Moun­tains, where a num­ber of high-pro­file incidents have taken place over re­cent months which in­volved dogs stray­ing from wood­land walks onto ad­ja­cent hills and wor­ry­ing sheep flocks.

The link-up be­tween IFA and Coillte fol­lows meet­ings be­tween the par­ties re­gard­ing on­go­ing prob­lems in the Dublin Moun­tains.

“IFA and Coillte have agreed to work to­gether to en­cour­age re­spon­si­ble dog own­er­ship and re­duce the at­tacks on sheep flocks in the Dublin Moun­tain area,” said Sean Dennehy, IFA sheep chair­man.

It is un­der­stood that Coillte agreed to in­crease the sig­nage in­form­ing dog own­ers of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and the need to keep their dogs un­der con­trol at all times.

Coillte also agreed to high­light re­spon­si­ble dog own­er­ship at ac­cess points for walk­ers and im­prove fenc­ing where nec­es­sary.

Mr Dennehy said IFA made it very clear to Coillte that a lot more would have to be done to ed­u­cate walk­ers who let their dogs loose on for­est walks.

He said too many dog own­ers were not aware that they are re­quired to keep their dogs un­der con­trol at all times.

Strayed

Mr Dennehy pointed out that some farm­ers in the Dublin Moun­tains had en­dured re­peated sheep at­tacks from dogs that strayed away from walk­ers.

Donie An­der­son from the Bo­h­ernabreena branch of Dublin IFA was one of the lo­cal farm­ers in­volved in the talks with Coillte.

Mr An­der­son, who farms at Gle­nas­mole which ad­joins the Wick­low Way, said the prob­lems usu­ally arise when dogs get the scent of a hare or a deer.

“If a hare or deer gets up in front of a hunt­ing dog then they can travel one or two miles across coun­try on the scent. The owner hasn’t a hope of keep­ing up with them,” Mr An­der­son ex­plains.

While there have been in­stances of farm­ers hav­ing to shoot stray dogs that were wor­ry­ing sheep flocks, Mr An­der­son stressed that this was the last thing that flock own­ers wanted to do.

He said farm­ers were anx­ious to work with Coillte and the pub­lic, but they also had to pro­tect their flocks.

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