New approach needed to protect farm animals from attacks

Press Release
Dogs (Protection of Livestock)
SLE's Head of Policy Stephen Young giving evidence at the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, 23 September 2020

A new approach which increases the focus on preventing incidents of livestock worrying rather than simply punishing those responsible is needed to help tackle this ongoing issue in Scotland’s countryside says Scottish Land & Estates (SLE), the organisation which represents farmers, landowners and rural businesses.

Following an evidence session with the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee today (23 September 2020) on the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill, SLE says that alongside increasing the level of fines to act as a deterrent for anyone who allows their pet to worry livestock, there is a need for better education and the matter to be taken more seriously to prevent these sort of incidents happening in the first place. 

Stephen Young, Head of Policy at Scottish Land & Estates, who gave evidence today at the committee, said:

“Our members are fully supportive of responsible access for everyone, including their pets. But we must remember that livestock worrying incidents can cause extreme emotional and financial distress for everyone involved, not just the farmer, so we need to see measures which prevent these incidents from ever happening. 

“We are fully supportive of the proposals in the Bill to increase the penalties for livestock worrying, which should work as a strong deterrent and encourage more responsible behaviour. We also believe that in some extreme cases where clear intent to allow animals to worry livestock has been proven, then the maximum penalties should be even higher to reflect the serious nature of the crime.

“However, prevention is better than cure and we believe that targeted education and awareness campaigns for dog owners and dog walkers can play an important role in preventing these horrendous crimes from happening in the first place.

“Livestock worrying and attacks are a criminal offence, so we would also like to see more resources provided to Police Scotland to ensure a full and thorough investigation can be carried out by trained police officers into all reported incidents.”

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We have designed a range of access signage. These signs have been developed to cover issues relating to respecting the environment, and information for dog walkers, which would be useful for areas containing livestock. The signs are available to view and download here