Dog owners are being warned about the damage their pets can cause to livestock if they are allowed to run loose during lambing season.
The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) has issued its annual reminder to park visitors to be aware of their responsibilities, as set out in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, while enjoying the countryside.
Bruce McConachie, farmer and a land management adviser at the CNPA, said: “Lambing time is upon us again and dog owners are being reminded they must be careful with their pets around sheep and other livestock.
“Pregnant ewes and newborn lambs are extremely vulnerable and nervous at this time of year and should not be worried by dogs that have been allowed to run loose.
“The consequences can be devastating from miscarriage to injuries as a direct result of chasing or attacks by dogs that are not in control.
“We would urge dog owners to please keep dogs on leads near farmland.”
NFU Scotland last year reported a rise in livestock worrying and the union’s clear message is to keep dogs under control or face prosecution and, in extreme cases, that dogs caught worrying livestock could even be shot.
Andrew McCornick, NFU Scotland president, said: “The advice is clear, the public should not take dogs into fields where young livestock is present.
“We are aware that instances of livestock worrying have increased year on year, and we are disappointed to note that the number of reports continue to climb.
“We would ask the public to ensure that they are familiar with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, and to ensure that where they do access fields with livestock they should ensure that dogs are under close control, they may also wish to consider taking an alternative route to avoid livestock altogether.
“We would remind the public that farmers are well within their rights to shoot a dog in the event that they witness it worrying livestock.
“Whilst we do urge our farmers to use this as a very last resort, unfortunately there have been a number of instances recently where this has been the only practicable solution to ending an attack.”
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code provides advice for dog walkers and all aspects of accessing the countryside in a safe manner. Further information can be found online at http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/