Growing problem of sheep worrying

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A WORRYING rise in sheep worrying cases has seen NFU Scotland urge one local authority to direct appropriate resources to tackle the growing problem.

In both the Lothians and the Borders, there have been several upsetting and distressing cases of sheep worrying reported in recent weeks – some involving irresponsible dog owners not keeping their pets under control.

The most recent case of sheep worrying affected Lothian and Borders regional chairman, Iain Orr on his farm at Standhill, Blackridge, near Bathgate.

That incident prompted NFU Scotland to write to West Lothian Council and its access forum, asking for more support in tackling the problem. The Union also wants an access officer to be re-appointed by the council as a matter of urgency and for all stakeholders, including the local police force, to help.

Mr Orr added: “Discovering sheep that have been killed or maimed by dogs is deeply distressing. The fact that cases appear to be rising rather than falling suggests that local authorities and other stakeholders must take their responsibilities more seriously.

“We want to ensure that action is taken to educate dog walkers on the devastating effects that worrying has on sheep.

“By following the simple messages in the Scottish Outdoor Access code that require dogs to be kept under close control in the countryside, these distressing incidents can be largely avoided. We want to encourage the public to use the countryside but do so in a responsible manner.

“We have therefore asked West Lothian Access Forum to do all it can to highlight this issue and promote the code. Given the onus on the local authority regarding access, we were disappointed to discover that West Lothian Council has no access officer in post. Access officers are a great help in informing the public and farmers alike of their responsibilities. We would want one appointed in this area with some urgency.

“The stray dog issue is a more difficult issue to crack. I have asked West Lothian Council what resources they have to deal with the problem of strays.”