Farmers call for full compensation in event of livestock worrying

Full compensation for actual losses suffered is needed, Scottish farmers say
Full compensation for actual losses suffered is needed, Scottish farmers say

The Scottish government has been urged to ensure farmers receive full compensation based on actual losses suffered in the event of a livestock worrying incident.

The number of livestock-worrying incidents across Scotland has more than doubled over the last decade.

In 2007/8, there were 81 offences recorded under the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953.

This increased to 170 in 2017/18, according to official statistics.

It comes as farmers across the country respond to a consultation for a proposed Members Bill on livestock worrying, brought forward by Emma Harper MSP.

The consultation calls for additional powers for Police Scotland, including the ability to issue Dog Control Notices.

It also supports the extension of the definition of ‘livestock’ within the legislation to ‘all farmed livestock’, to take into account camelids and other farmed species.

Harsher penalties

NFU Scotland, responding, reiterated the need for harsher penalties, including options for community payment orders and custodial sentences for those people who let their dogs attack livestock.

The union also stated that the financial costs to victims are often understated and the real cost of this problem is likely to be much higher than published figures suggest.

Over the last five years NFU Scotland has stepped up its activities to tackle livestock worrying, including a 12-month national campaign.

This was launched in February to educate dog owners on their responsibilities, including having clear signage in place, and ensuring fences and hedges are in good order.

The campaign also informs dog walkers about letting go of their dogs if attacked by cows and to avoid fields with livestock.

The union has worked closely with politicians, including Ms Harper, to raise the issue further and seek changes to the law to further protect farmers, crofters and those affected by livestock worrying.

'Blight on the countryside'

Charlie Adam, Vice President, said farmers have spent 'considerable time, effort and resource on this blight on the countryside' in recent years.

“Efforts have been focussed on awareness raising amongst dog owners of their responsibilities, raising awareness amongst livestock keepers of their rights and lobbying local authorities and Police Scotland to use control mechanisms available to them.

“Current penalty levels do not act as enough of a deterrent to prevent dog owners from allowing their dogs to carry out livestock attacks.

“Increasing financial penalties would send a strong message that it is unacceptable to allow a dog to worry livestock.”

He added: “Additional investigative powers are also welcomed as this could assist in increasing the number of prosecutions that occur.”