Union Builds Momentum on Tackling Livestock Worrying

NFU Scotland has used the latest meeting of the Scottish National Partnership Against Rural Crime (SPARC) to highlight the ongoing blight that livestock worrying by dogs causes for Scottish farmers and crofters.

Following on from recent incidents in the Scottish Borders. North East and Argyll, which saw uncontrolled dogs kill and inflict horrific injuries on a significant number of sheep, the Union expressed its frustration that the issue continues to occur.

Leading rural insurer NFU Mutual recently revealed that the cost of claims related to livestock worrying has reached a record level of £1.6 million across the UK.  The cost of dog attacks on Scottish livestock reported to NFU Mutual has quadrupled in the last two years to more than £50,000.

With lambing now underway on Scottish farms and crofts, NFU Scotland joined Police Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Land & Estates, National Sheep Association (Scotland) and the Kennel Club in a campaign that started in February and will run until May, raising awareness amongst dog owners about the devastating effects of livestock worrying.

At today’s SPARC meeting, which was attended by Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing, the Union’s Legal and Technical Chairman Jamie Smart said: “The events of last week in Jedburgh, Netherley, Stonehaven and Inveraray have demonstrated the sheer devastation that is caused by out of control dogs.

“The graphic images of dead and mauled sheep underlined that the impact of irresponsible dog ownership on farmers’ livelihoods cannot be underestimated. “Whilst Police Scotland has responded positively to this issue, there is a real lack of awareness at local authority level about the true impact of this problem.

 “Local authorities are responsible for upholding access rights under the 2003 Act, but NFUS is not convinced that this is translating into the assistance that is required for farmers where things go wrong.  

“There are some interim steps which can assist where dogs are repeatedly out of control, including the use of dog control notices.  However, we know anecdotally that not all local authority dog wardens are keen to use these.  Once in place, if breached, then problem dogs can be removed or destroyed.

“NFUS would like to see all local authorities using these as a matter of course to deal with repeatedly straying dogs, and we will be writing to all local authorities to highlight these and encourage their use.

“In addition to this, the Union is looking further into areas where legislation could be improved to help deal with these issues where they occur.”

Gemma Cooper, Policy Manager at NFU Scotland added: “Despite a vast amount of awareness raising, livestock worrying remains a blight on Scottish livestock farming. There is no such thing as an irresponsible dog, only irresponsible dog owners.

“With lambing underway across Scotland, NFUS welcomes the current campaign and urges the public to ensure that, when out and about, all dogs are under proper control and the public should not take access in fields where heavily pregnant ewes or young lambs are present.

“Last year there were a number of instances where farmers were left with no choice but to destroy dogs they caught worrying their stock, and in addition to this a number of owners received hefty sanctions.

“We welcome robust enforcement of the legislation in this area and urge our members to continue to report all incidents of livestock worrying to Police Scotland.”  


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 40/18

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About The Author

Bob Carruth

A dairy farmer’s son, I joined NFU Scotland in 1999 after 13 years as an agricultural journalist. Following spells as a regional manager and policy lead on milk, livestock and animal health and welfare, I became Communications Director in 2008.

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