Dog owners are being urged to keep their dogs under control in the countryside, especially as more visitors visit the countryside as Covid restrictions continue to ease. This reminder came just before the May Bank Holiday when the CLA South West expected a surge in visitors to the countryside with those looking to enjoy long-overdue staycation breaks.
We welcome visitors to share the beauty of our region, but ask that you respect the countryside as a place of work and a sanctuary for wildlife when enjoying your day out. We’ve recently seen a worrying increase in the number of reports of livestock being attacked or chased by dogs, resulting in serious injury or fatality. It is vital that dog owners understand their responsibilities. All dogs are capable of attacking livestock if they are not under control. Dog fouling can cause disease to be spread so we urge everyone to clear up any mess caused by their pets, and dispose of it appropriately. It is devastating for farmers, if sheep are wounded or killed and even the act of being chased can cause undue harm to pregnant ewes, leaving them and their lambs at risk. Ewes are vulnerable and prone to abort their lambs if they are stressed by dogs. This time of year is also an important time for ground nesting birds who are settled on their eggs and are easily dislodged by loose dogs, resulting in birds abandoning the nest. The spirit of the Countryside Code is generally adhered to by the majority of people, but there are a few worrying trends that are either based on anti-social behaviour or a lack of awareness of the working countryside. The land, livestock, machinery, wildlife and environment must be respected. All the while, it can still be enjoyed by all.
CLA South West, which represents landowners and farmers across the region, is also reminding the public to stick to footpaths, bridleways and respect other users of the rights of way, park appropriately, not to feed horses or other livestock and not to leave their litter behind.
The Countryside Code applies to all parts of the countryside in England and Wales. It aims to help everyone respect, protect and enjoy the outdoors. Follow the Countryside Code