Dog walkers across Scotland are being urged to keep their dogs on a lead or under close control after a spate of sheep worrying attacks in the Pentland Hills.

In just a matter of weeks there have been a number of incidents in and around Bonaly Country Park where dogs have chased sheep and young lambs.

As a result of these attacks one person has so far been charged with ‘livestock worrying’, according to Police Scotland.

The message from NFU Scotland is clear – keep your dogs under control, otherwise if they injure or worry sheep you could face prosecution.

NFU Scotland previously revealed that livestock worrying in Scotland last year is the highest it has been in six years. The issue is believed to be an under-reported one amongst farmers.

The Union has been working with stakeholders, including closely with Police Scotland as part of the national Scottish Partnership against Rural Crime to raise awareness of sheep worrying. In early spring a nationwide campaign was launched to educate the public and remind owners to keep their dogs on leads around sheep.

Gemma Thomson, NFU Scotland’s Legal and Technical Policy Manager commented: “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.”


Lothians farmer Bob Barr, whose sheep have suffered a number of attacks recently, commented: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.”

Inspector Liz Duthie of Police Scotland said: “The worrying of sheep and other livestock by domestic dogs can have a very damaging impact on the livelihoods of farmers as well as cause significant and unnecessary distress to the animals themselves.

“Police Scotland treats all such reports extremely seriously and will thoroughly investigate every incident. Sadly, on this latest occasion, one animal has died however local officers have now reported a man to the Procurator Fiscal in connection with this matter.

“I wish to take this opportunity to remind people of their responsibilities when walking their dogs in the countryside.  Our advice is to always ensure that their pets are under control at all times. We also encourage people not to enter farm fields where livestock is grazing especially during calving season when the animals are more protective of their offspring.”

Farmers and those who use the countryside are urged to report all incidents of livestock worrying to police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

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