Andrew McCornick, President of NFU Scotland has written a letter appealing to dog owners to keep their pets under control inline with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, in the coming weeks and months.
Dear Sir or Madam,
We are asking dog walkers in your area to take precautions when out walking in the countryside in the coming months.
Incidents of livestock worrying – where sheep and cattle are distressed, chased, injured or killed by uncontrolled dogs – are increasing, and we, as Scotland’s largest lobbying organisation, are pleading with dog owners to ensure that their pets are kept under proper control.
In addition to this, we are asking dog owners to avoid fields where very young livestock is present, as per the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. This is particularly relevant at this time of year, when lambing and calving is now underway. Where the public takes access to fields where older livestock is grazing, we ask that they keep dogs on a lead or under close control. They should also be aware of the potential dangers that cattle can pose, particularly where a dog is present.
2016 saw the highest number of livestock worrying incidents over the last seven years, with 179 incidents, up by 40 on 2015, and we are working to reduce this number year on year.
NFU Scotland is asking the public to ensure that when exercising their dogs in the countryside they ensure they do so responsibly, in line with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
In addition to this, we would like to remind the public that, whilst the Union views the option as a very last resort, farmers do have legal rights to shoot a dog worrying livestock. There have been some cases where much loved family pets have been shot, because they have not been properly controlled by their owners.
NFU Scotland does not wish to see more instances of this, and reiterates its plea that dog owners comply with their responsible access rights under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.