Local farmers, Quantock Rangers and Police are working closely to highlight the problems some dogs can cause to livestock on the hills. This is a familiar message given to dog owners at this time of year when lambs are being born on the hills, but it is being robustly repeated due to several recent incidents involving sheep being injured and killed on the common.
Dog owners are being asked to keep all dogs under close control and to remember that from the 1st March until 31st July they are required by law to keep their dogs on a lead when being walked across Open Access land. It’s not just the physical attacks that cause harm but simply allowing a dog to chase sheep may cause ewes to abort or become injured.
Andy Harris, Quantock Ranger said “I’m a dog owner myself and there’s nothing I enjoy more than walking over the hills with my two retrievers, but I have to remember that livestock and wildlife can easily be disturbed if the dogs, no matter how well trained, are not under very close control”.
Andy went on to say “I have had to deal with the aftermath of several dog attacks on sheep and in all cases I believe they could have been easily avoided - it’s never easy visiting a farmer to tell them that their livestock has been injured or killed”.
If your dog does kill or cause harm to livestock, you can be liable for a significant fine and for the value of the livestock harmed - your pet may also be dispatched, the cost of which will also have to be borne by you. Moreover, if your dog is actually seen in action harassing livestock it could be shot on sight.
Rangers are keen to help dog owners understand the responsibilities they have when visiting the countryside and will be holding dog walking events for anyone with a dog or thinking of getting a four legged friend - for more details visit the Quantock AONB Service’s website http://www.quantockhills.com.
If you actually witness an attack in progress, call 999 otherwise any incidents witnessed should be reported to the Police on 0845 456 7000 or directly to the Quantock Hills Office on 01823 451884.
For further information, please click on this link: http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/enjoying/countrysidecode/countrysidedirectory/dogwalking.aspx
Georgie Grant - March 2010-->