Police are appealing for information after a livestock worrying incident in Kinross-shire at the weekend in which four sheep died.
The incident happened at Vane Farm, Balado, sometime between 8am on Friday and 2pm on Saturday.
Two Beltex Rams and two sheep died as a result.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Tayside Division on 101 quoting reference number CR/3886/17. Alternatively information can be passed anonymously via the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Yesterday saw the launch of a campaign by the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime, in partnership with Police Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, NFUS, Scottish Land & Estates and the Kennel Club, to raise awareness amongst dog owners about the devastating effects of livestock worrying.
The campaign seeks to highlight to dog owners who live in or walk their dogs in the countryside that they must act responsibly and keep their dogs under close control. Results from a similar campaign last year showed two-thirds of all reported crime involved a dog which was either local to the area or allowed to roam free, or had ‘escaped’ from a house or garden.
A dog attacking, chasing or even being at large in a field where sheep are kept can lead to significant injury and often leads to the sheep being killed or destroyed. Such attacks have a financial and emotional impact on the farmer and cause immense suffering to the animals and are avoidable if dog owners follow some simple steps.
Inspector Jane Donaldson, Police Scotland’s Rural Crime co-ordinator, said:
“The worrying of livestock can have devastating consequences for farm animals and has an obvious financial and emotional impact on farmers and their businesses. This campaign is being launched to coincide with the spring lambing period because this is when sheep are at greatest risk.
“The vast majority of livestock worrying incidents involve sheep and can occur when a dog attacks, chases or in the case of sheep, is at large (not on a lead or otherwise under close control) in a field where livestock is kept. The devastating effects of a dog attack are evident and cannot be overstated but significant damage can also be caused by a dog simply being present in a field. Pregnant ewes can abort their lambs or lambs can be separated from their mothers, causing distress and in some cases malnutrition.
“The advice to dog owners who live in rural areas or anyone walking and exercising their dogs in the countryside is to ensure they are under control at all times and avoid going into fields where livestock is grazing. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code says dogs shouldn’t be taken into fields where there are lambs or other young farm animals.”
“We are encouraging 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” added Inspector Donaldson.
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.
Preventative measures can be also be taken using dog control notices issued by the local authority. These written notices can be served on owners who do not keep their dogs under proper control and place control measures such as keeping the dog on a lead or being muzzled in a public place.
Police Scotland will also enforce the existing legislation robustly, ensuring all reported cases of sheep worrying are thoroughly investigated and offenders reported to the Procurator Fiscal.
Theresa Kewell of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) said: “We may not think our family pet is capable of causing injury, but it’s a dog’s natural instinct to chase. So think ahead about what might tempt your dog to run off, and make sure you keep them under proper control, with a short lead when necessary. We’d also encourage farmers and other land managers to download signs from the Scottish Outdoor Access Code website to make sure it’s clear to dog walkers what areas they should avoid at this time of year. Dog walkers can also find a lot of practical tips on staying safe with your dog at www.Jessthedog.org.uk.”
Andrew McCornick, President of NFU Scotland commented: “It is disappointing to note that instances of livestock worrying continue to rise in Scotland. “Particularly at this time of year, when there are young lambs all over the Scottish Countryside, we would urge dog owners to ensure they comply with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. They should not take dogs into fields where there are young livestock present. “The Union urges its members to consider shooting a dog worrying livestock as a very last resort, however I remind the public that this is a very real possibility if dogs are not under proper control in the countryside.”