19th March 2010
Now that the snow of the last few months has thawed, many dog owners will be desperate to get out and about more as the days become longer and paths start to become a bit more accessible again. The Cairngorms National Park is a great place for enjoying the countryside with your dogs and walking a dog is a great way to get regular exercise.
However, dog owners and walkers in the Park are being reminded that spring is an important time of year for farming interests – sheep and lambs can be injured and killed by attacks from uncontrolled dogs and in general, dogs should be kept out of fields containing young animals. Dog owners should ensure that their dogs avoid chasing sheep, but equally that their actions do not separate lambs from their mothers as this results in the lamb becoming very vulnerable.
Justin Prigmore, Outdoor Access Officer at the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) explained: “Dogs that are not under proper control can be a real concern to farmers and land managers. Sheep are easily bothered by loose dogs, which can result in a ewe aborting her unborn lamb during the early stages of pregnancy. But at this time of year, when lambs are being born, even the stress of having a dog nearby can make a ewe stamp her feet on a nervous lamb that is looking for protection under its mother.
“Our advice is to avoid going into fields with farm animals. If this can’t be avoided, ensure that your dog is kept close at heel in areas where there could be young farm animals. If in doubt, pop your dog on a lead until you are in an area where you are sure it can cause no harm.”
Alastair MacLennan, a Strathspey farmer and member of the CNPA board added: “Some of the advice in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code is aimed at the safety of walkers and their dogs – for example, cattle can be unpredictable around dogs and can react very aggressively. If you find yourself in this situation, you should keep calm, let your dog go if it is on a lead and take the shortest route to safety.”
More information about dogs in the countryside and general outdoor access issues is contained within the Scottish Outdoor Access Code which can be viewed online at www.outdooraccess-scotland.com