A month-long campaign is being launched by Police Scotland to raise awareness among dog owners about the devastating effects of livestock worrying.
It coincides with a rise in livestock attacks by dogs during November, a time when sheep are brought down to low lying pasture, in areas more accessible by people exercising their dogs or by local dogs that are allowed to roam free.
The Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime, a multi-agency partnership which includes Police Scotland, National Farmers Union of Scotland and Scottish Land & Estates, is working with Scottish Natural Heritage to promote responsible dog walking in the countryside.
Inspector Jane Donaldson, Police Scotland Rural Crime Co-ordinator, said: “Rural dog owners and those who choose to exercise their dogs in the countryside must ensure they are under control at all times and avoid going into fields where livestock is grazing. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code says that dogs shouldn’t be taken into fields where there are lambs or other young farm animals.
“The worrying of sheep and other livestock by domestic dogs not only has an obvious financial and emotional impact on farmers when their animals are killed or injured, but also has an effect on the animals themselves, their productivity and welfare.
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.
Gemma Cooper of NFUS added: “NFUS is pleased to see this initiative, as it is a cause which it has been championing for some time now. Instances of dog worrying are never acceptable; they cause our farmers personal heartache, and often substantial and ongoing financial loss. It is disappointing that instances are still high in number.”