SLE says Livestock Attack Bill is good news for farmers

Press Release

The imminent passage of legislation to deal with dog attacks on livestock is a hugely welcome move for rural Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates said today.

The rural business organisation has thrown its weight behind the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill. A member’s bill brought forward by Emma Harper MSP. It will be debated for the final time by parliament on Wednesday the 24 March.

If passed, as expected, the bill will modernise and strengthen legislation regarding attacks on livestock.

These attacks can have traumatic consequences for not only the animals involved, but the farmers who must deal with their awful results. Livestock are particularly at risk during lambing season, which has already begun.

After extensive awareness and education campaigns by police, Government and rural organisations, SLE said the time had come for legislation to assist in the prevention of dog attacks and for imposing tougher penalties on irresponsible dog owners who put livestock at risk.

Jason Rust, Scottish Land & Estates Legal Adviser said:

“Current legislation does not adequately protect farmers and their livestock.

“We have been pleased to offer Emma Harper MSP our full support in bringing this bill forward. We are grateful to her, the Government and MSPs from all the parliament’s political parties who sit on the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee. All of them came together to ensure this much needed legislation was passed into law ahead of the election. 

“Rural organisations alongside government and police will continue to raise awareness to ensure dogs are kept on a short leash when around livestock. To promote responsible access and dog ownership while enjoying our countryside.

“The effects of livestock worrying on farmers cannot be underestimated – attacks on sheep and other livestock by dogs not only has an obvious financial and emotional impact on farmers when their animals are killed or injured, but also has an effect on the animals themselves, their productivity and welfare.”

South Scotland Emma Harper SNP MSP, said:

“My Livestock Worrying Members’ Bill increases the penalties for the offence of livestock worrying to a fine of £40,000, 12 months’ imprisonment, or both, which shows how severe allowing out of control dogs to attack livestock can be. My Members’ Bill is progressing to Stage 3 in the Parliament next week. Indeed, it is the last piece of legislation the Parliament will vote on and then the Bill will go for Royal Assent before becoming law six months thereafter. The Bill also extends the definition of livestock to include modern types of farmed animals - such as alpacas, llamas and buffalo -  which were not farmed when the UK Bill was passed in 1953 which is 67 years old.

“The Bill also provides much greater clarity to Scotland’s legal bodies, police and courts on how to enforce and offence and it tidies up the legislation surrounding attacks on livestock as, at the moment, different legislation can be used and it is often confusing and difficult to understand.

“I want to thank Scottish Land and Estates for their continued support throughout the process of taking this Bill forward and I look forward to continuing a positive relationship with them, and indeed all stakeholders, as we move into the future.”