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Nothing is more evocative of spring than seeing new lambs by their mothers out on the Quantock Hills

But please remember that it is at this time of year when sheep and lambs are at their most vulnerable.

From 1st March - 31st July dog owners are required by law to keep their dogs on a lead when being walked across Open Access land. In all other areas of the countryside dogs should be kept under close control. 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 Stevenson, Quantock Hills AONB Ranger said: "We'd like to take this opportunity to remind all dog owners to please keep their dogs on leads when walking close to lambs or sheep. It's really important to be extra careful at this time of year. Even if lambs are not present in a flock, the ewes may well be pregnant and a dog chasing them could cause them to abort. Every year Quantock farmers have had to deal with the aftermath of dog attacks on sheep and in all cases I believe they could have been easily avoided - for us as Rangers, it's never easy visiting a farmer to tell them that their livestock has been injured or killed".

Between 1st March and 31st July, keeping your dog on a lead on Open Access Land is also to protect ground nesting birds, as dogs run about in the undergrowth, they flush birds such as Nightjars and Skylarks off their nests and may cause them to abandon them.

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.

If you actually witness an attack in progress, call 999 otherwise any incidents witnessed should be reported to the Police on 101 or by contacting the Quantock Hills team.

Lamb images - Rob Dolton



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