Plan to curb sheep attacks by dogs on forest walks
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.
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.