With the lambing season well under way, Environment Minister Alan Kelly and Comhairle Na Tuaithe are highlighting the responsibility of dog owners and the vulnerability of sheep to dog attacks.
”Dog owners must be mindful that with ownership comes responsibility,” said Minister Kelly.
”Owning a dog means that you have to feed, house and care for your pet. However you must also remember that you have to keep them under control at all times. Never let your dog out unsupervised, especially at night,” he added.
”Any dog, large or small, may become involved in attacking sheep – make sure he doesn’t get the chance,” Minister Kelly said.
One of the key principles of the Leave No Trace programme states, “When taking part in any recreation activities in the countryside, care should always be taken to avoid disturbing farm animals and wildlife.”
Up to 2.5m lambs are born across the country at this time of year. Sheep flocks are very vulnerable to dog attacks at this critical time, and especially during the night. In addition, the presence of dogs, even on a lead, can alarm sheep prior to lambing and have a detrimental effect on them and their lambs.
Those engaging in recreational activities in the countryside (such as hillwalking) should not bring dogs onto hills or farmland at this time of year.
Mr Kelly said those taking part in countryside recreation can assist farmers through keeping their eyes open and reporting any activity by unaccompanied dogs to local landowners.