Nothing is more evocative of spring than seeing new lambs by their mothers out in the countryside.
But please remember that it is at this time of year when sheep and lambs are at their most vulnerable. Quantock Rangers, local farmers and the Police would like to highlight the problems that some dogs can cause to livestock on the hills.
From 1 March to 31 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.
Owen Jones, 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. Even if lambs are not present in a flock, the ewes may well be in lamb and a dog chasing them could cause them to abort.”
Owen went on to say, “There have been many times when Quantock Rangers have had to deal with the aftermath of 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.”
Between 1 March and 31 July, keeping your dog on a lead on Open Access Land will also help protect ground-nesting birds, as dogs run about in the undergrowth, and can 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 directly to the Quantock Hills AONB Office on 01823 451884.