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When it comes to your dog and livestock – do the right thing this spring

29th March 2024

Dog owners are being encouraged to do the right thing this spring in the Cairngorms National Park and keep dogs on leads around livestock.

The Cairngorms National Park is a living working landscape with farms, crofts and estates and members of the public are reminded of their responsibilities when enjoying the countryside this springtime, particularly in and around farmland areas.

Cairngorms National Park Authority board member and farmer Duncan Miller said: “Spring is one of the most important times of the year for sheep farmers. To help us enjoy a successful lambing season and prevent any injury or stress to animals it is extremely important to ensure that dogs are under close control – or even better – on a lead at all times when close to fields with pregnant ewes and newborn lambs.

“While reported cases of livestock worrying in the Cairngorms National Park are low, we are not incident free, and it continues to be a serious worry for the Park’s farmers and crofters.

“Dog fouling is another concern with the parasites found in some dog faeces having the potential to result in abortions in cattle and death in sheep. So the plea is, please do the right thing this spring when walking your dog.”

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code and the Protection of Livestock legislation are clear when it comes to the responsibilities that dog owners have when walking in or close to farmland and a dog caught amongst sheep could mean a hefty fine for the owner and the dog being destroyed.

Outdoor access officers at the Cairngorms National Park Authority are reminding dog owners not to take dogs into fields where there are lambs, calves or other young animals, and to keep them on a short lead, or close at heel, where there is livestock or ground nesting birds.

Vicky Hilton, an Outdoor Access Officer at the Park Authority said: “Every springtime we encourage dog walkers to consider how and where they walk their dogs.  Our daily dog walks are good for our physical and mental health – and please continue to enjoy them – but remember even the most well-trained friendly dog can scare livestock and wildlife. Keeping your dog in sight and under close control means a happy walk for everyone. If in doubt, use a lead”.

Police Scotland encourages farmers and landowners to engage with dog walkers and to put signs up on gateways and on key roads and paths alerting them to the presence of sheep and lambs in their fields, and to report all incidents of livestock worrying to police on 101 or 999 in an emergency. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code provides comprehensive advice for dog walkers and everyone about all aspects of accessing the Scottish countryside in a safe and responsible manner.