The launch of a public consultation concerning attacks on livestock by dogs has drawn strong support from NFU Scotland which says the issue is a blight on Scottish agriculture and is affecting more than 70% of livestock farms.
The online consultation, launched by MSP Emma Harper, is in preparation for a proposed Member’s Bill to tackle incidents of dogs attacking livestock. The consultation will run for 12 weeks.
In the last 24 hours we’ve had 86 responses to my livestock attack proposals – in context that number is more than what most Members’ Bill consultations will receive in total… and we still have 12 weeks left! Thank you to everyone who has taken part so far. ? Keep ‘em comin’! pic.twitter.com/T31WLGWj33
— Emma Harper, MSP (@EmmaHarperMSP) February 22, 2019
“This is a useful platform on which to build towards more proportionate sanctions for irresponsible owners who allow their dogs to worry livestock,” said NFU Scotland vice-president Martin Kennedy.
“The ‘key asks’ that we’d like to see in the bill are higher fines, a ban on owning dogs and additional powers for the police. We’re delighted some of these asks are already included in the proposed Bill from Ms Harper.”
The aim of the Bill is to give police, courts and potentially other agencies more powers to properly tackle offences of dogs attacking livestock, responding to survey evidence that 84% of livestock farmers don’t think current protection for livestock is effective.
“Livestock attacks continue to be a blight on Scottish agriculture,” said the union, which launched its own campaign earlier this month to influence a change in behaviours of irresponsible dog owners, especially calling for people to keep their dogs on a lead when walking on farmland.
Last year, Police Scotland had 338 incidents of attacks on livestock by dogs reported to them.
In addition, a recent NFU Scotland survey found that 72% of responding farmers had faced an issue of livestock worrying on their land.
The union urged as many farmers and crofters as possible to participate in the online consultation to provide a true reflection of the extent dog attacks on livestock continue to have on the industry.