FARMERS have warned dog walkers to keep their pets under control after a number of attacks on sheep in the Pentland Hills.
Dogs have been chasing lambs around Bonaly Country Park in recent weeks, with one person being charged with livestock worrying after a sheep was killed.
These attacks have both a financial and emotional impact at an already stressful time of year. No-one likes to see their stock distressed or killed, especially when it could so easily be avoided.Bob Barr
The National Farmers Union (NFU) said the number of reported incidents in Scotland as a whole was at a six-year high, but admitted the true figure could be much higher.
Farmer Bob Barr said he was growing increasingly concerned for his sheep, which have suffered a number of attacks.
He said: “Whilst it is right that the public are able to enjoy the Scottish countryside, it is important that they respect us farmers who make a living there. These attacks have both a financial and emotional impact at an already stressful time of year. No-one likes to see their stock distressed or killed, especially when it could so easily be avoided.
“The ewes and lambs are particularly vulnerable at this time of year; some are heavily pregnant, others have lambs which could be just hours or days old. It is vital the mother is not separated from her offspring at such a young age as the lamb will not be able to survive alone.
“Any dog walker exercising their access rights should ensure they are familiar with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code and also ensure their dogs are adequately controlled so that they are unable to cause distress or injury to farm animals.”
NFU Scotland has teamed up with police and launched a campaign urging dog walkers to keep their pets on a lead.
Gemma Thomson, NFU Scotland’s legal and technical policy manager, said: “It is very disappointing that despite the extensive awareness raising that has taken place in recent months on this issue, members of the public continue to allow their dogs to worry sheep.
“NFU Scotland strongly supports a robust approach to this issue, including prosecution of irresponsible dog owners.”
Inspector Liz Duthie of Police Scotland said: “The worrying of sheep and other livestock by dogs can have a very damaging impact on the livelihoods of farmers as well as cause significant distress to the animals themselves.
“Police Scotland treats all such reports extremely seriously and will thoroughly investigate every incident. I wish to take this opportunity to remind people of their responsibilities when walking their dogs in the countryside.”