Dogwalkers Urged to Act on Livestock Worrying

More than 550 cases of animals being killed or injured by dogs on Scotland’s farms in last five years

Dog owners who let their animals loose in the countryside have been responsible for the deaths and injury of hundreds of Scottish livestock in recent times.

Over the last five years, there have been more 550 incidents of livestock worrying in Scotland, and NFU Scotland took to the Royal Highland Show to raise further awareness of the problem.

Figures obtained from Police Scotland under a Freedom of Information request show that over the last few years, on average, there have been around 100 cases of livestock worrying in Scotland annually, where the incidents have been reported to police. In total there have been 566 cases over the last five years.

The Highlands and Islands has consistently had the highest number of cases, a total of 139 over the last five years, which have been reported as a crime.

The breakdown revealed that in 2010 there were 109 cases; 2011, 132; 2012, 132; 2013, 100 and in 2014 there were 93 cases recorded.

Despite the decline in cases in the last two years, the Union feels incidents are still occurring far too frequently, the problem is significantly under-reported and is urging farmers to record incidents with Police Scotland as soon as they happen, or as soon after they are discovered.

A life-size cut out of a sheep with dog food was used to draw dogs and their owners as they passed by NFU Scotland’s stand to raise awareness of the issue throughout the Royal Highland Show.

Gemma Thomson, Legal and Technical Policy Manager commented: “With increasing access to the countryside, NFU Scotland members report that instances of livestock worrying are occurring far too frequently.

“There have been 566 reported cases in Scotland from 2010 to 2014, but a lot of instances are not reported, so the real number is likely to be far higher.

“Each instance leads to immediate financial loss, additional ongoing financial harm, and emotional stress at the death and suffering caused to their livestock.

“In some instances the same dogs are allowed to worry livestock on a number of occasions. Farmers have little recourse against perpetrators.

“This is one of the worst forms of irresponsible access.  We are working with Scottish Natural Heritage to provide case studies with a local radio campaign in the pipeline.  In addition, we are working with Keep Scotland Beautiful to address the issue of dog fouling on agricultural land.

“Access to the countryside is only exercisable if it is responsible, and livestock worrying is a wholly unacceptable part of that right to access. It is a serious issue, a growing one, and one which can have consequences for the dog and/or owner as well as the farmer affected by it. We need to push for dog owners who are not exercising responsible access to change their habits.

“Better safe than sorry and we would urge dog owners to keep their animals on leads when out in the countryside, that you keep your dog out of fields with livestock, and even if you can’t see livestock in a field, exercise caution as they may be out of sight.”

Notes to editors

  • For full details obtained through the FOI request, including a regional break-down, please contact or call 0131 472 4108.
  • For a photograph from the RHS of the cut out and NFU Scotland staff please also contact or call 0131 472 4108.


Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108

Date Published:

News Article No.: 114/15

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