Livestock Worrying - An Increasing Issue

Inspector Alan Dron ,
26 Feb 2019

This week’s blog is by Inspector Alan Dron, National Rural Crime Coordinator with Police Scotland. 

Throughout Scotland, regardless of geographical location there is rarely a that day passes without a report of livestock worrying being received by Police Scotland.

At the start of January 2019, the Scottish Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) launched their latest campaign, "Your Dog - Your Responsibility".  This five-month multi-agency campaign aims to highlight: 

  • the reality of livestock attacks and distress caused primarily by dogs, 
  • ensure dog owners understand the distressing and emotive nature as well as emotional and financial impacts such incidents can have, not just on farmers but everyone having to deal with the aftermath      
  • draw attention to other animals such as horses and those animals (like camelids which are currently not included under the definition of 'livestock’) such as alpacas and llamas due to reports being received of these animals being attacked with increasing frequency.  

Comprising of Scottish Government, Scottish Land & Estates, Crown Office + Procurator Fiscal Service, NFU Mutual, NFU(S), Association of Young Farmers Clubs, Forestry Commission, Confor,‎ Historic Environment Scotland, Scottish Community Safety Network, Scottish Business Resilience Centre, Zero Waste Scotland, Neighbourhood Watch, Food Standards Scotland, British Horse Society + Police Scotland, tackling livestock attacks is an important issue and remains a priority for SPARC. 

The campaign is primarily aimed at those dog owners living, working or enjoying our rural communities. Problems arise when dogs are either left to their own devices during the day, allowed to roam free under no supervision or taken into the countryside for exercise and not kept under proper control.  

Regardless of whether a dog has been let off a lead and not obeyed commands; or whether someone else is in charge of the dog at the time; or through the increasing number of dogs left alone at home or in gardens then escaping, owners are reminded that they must take responsibility for the actions of their dog.  

Further work is needed in highlighting not just the message about an owner or person responsible keeping a dog on a lead if there is livestock nearby, but a more general awareness message regarding responsible dog ownership, both in the home and when outside. 

The SPARC campaign helps keeps this important issue in the public's mind and is vital if longer term behavioural change is to be achieved. Over the next few months further local events on livestock worrying are on-going throughout Scotland, concluding in May at Conic Hill, Balmaha, within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

It is hoped by having a harder-hitting message that reaches communities throughout Scotland, it will encourage farmers and landowners to report all instances of attacks and distress to their animals plus the campaign complements work being done by rural organisations. 

In addition, the campaign adds to the current debate on livestock worrying and the current consultation by Emma Harper MSP on a proposal for a Bill to increase penalties and provide additional powers to investigate and enforce the offence of livestock worrying. The full proposal can be viewed here

SLE is strongly encouraging all members to respond to the consultation – the closing date is the 15/05/2019