As Spring approaches and the lambing season begins, visitors and residents are being reminded to take extra care not to disturb lambs, pregnant ewes and other livestock.
The advice from Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is especially relevant to dog owners walking their pets on or near to farm land.
Simon Jones, Director of Conservation and Visitor Operations for Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, said: “While we always want to see people out enjoying the fantastic surroundings of the National Park, this is an important time for farmers. We’ve previously seen issues, particularly with dogs, around Conic Hill and the West Highland Way over the last few years.
“Pregnant ewes and new-born lambs are extremely vulnerable. Dogs running loose can cause a great deal of distress which can cause miscarriages, injuries or separating lambs from their mothers putting them at risk of starvation or exposure. Even well-behaved dogs on leads can be disturbing to ewes and lambs so we would urge dog owners to take extra care to avoid fields with sheep in them during this time.”
NFU Scotland has reported a rise in livestock worrying across Scotland in recent years.
Andrew McCornick, NFU Scotland’s President commented: “Spring is an important time of year for farmers, with many farms seeing the arrival of new lambs and calves. The advice is clear, the public should not take dogs into fields where young livestock is present. We are aware that instances of livestock worrying have increased year on year, and hit a record high in 2016. This is disappointing to note and we really need the public’s support to buck the trend.
“We would ask the public to ensure that they are familiar with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, and to ensure that where they do access fields with livestock they should ensure that dogs are under close control and on a short lead, they are encouraged to take an alternative route to avoid livestock altogether.
“We would remind the public that farmers are well within their rights to shoot a dog in the event that they witness it worrying livestock. Whilst we do urge our farmers to use this as a very last resort, unfortunately there have been a number of instances recently where this has been the only practicable solution to ending an attack.”
The guidance in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code is to avoid taking your dog into fields where there are lambs, calves or other young farm animals. If you do go into a field of farm animals, the advice is to keep your dog on a short lead or under close control and as far as possible from the animals.
For more information on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code go to www.outdoor-access.co.uk