Call to dog owners after ram dies from mauling
A PLEA has gone out to dog owners to keep their pets under control around livestock as the lambing season reaches its peak.
The call follows disturbing incidents which, according to Lake District National Park Authority ranger Val Edmondson, could be avoided with a bit of care and common sense. Although most dog owners take great care around breeding livestock and wildlife, the thoughtless minority can cause havoc, she said.
She added: “We recently had a case in Ullswater where a very well-bred, valuable Herdwick ram was mauled so badly it had to be put down.”
Owner Jean Wilson, a respected Herdwick breeder, was distraught, explaining that she had bought the young breeding tup for 1,000 guineas in autumn to improve her pedigree flock.
She said: “It was heartbreaking, particularly as it should have had its whole life in front of it. The vet bill was £400, not to mention disposal costs.”
According to Val, the case proved rams are just as vulnerable to attack as pregnant ewes and lambs. She said: “It was one of a number of mindless actions from dog owners at this precarious time. Sheep worrying can and does have horrendous consequences, both for the farmer and dog owners.
“This is a very sensitive and important time. Dogs chasing lambing sheep can cause them to abort and, in the worst cases, kill the ewe. Preferably they should be kept on a short lead around livestock.
“Farmers have reported some sickening cases over the years and ultimately they have the right to shoot out of control pets. This is obviously a last resort, but sometimes they have no other choice.”
She added: “Lambing time coincides with ground nesting birds producing their offspring, which are also at great risk from dogs.
“Species such as curlew, lapwing, snipe and grouse have nests disturbed and their chicks scattered. Once away from the nest, their chances of survival plummet. We’ve seen a worrying decline in numbers and must do all we can to protect them.
“By law, canines must be controlled so they do not scare or disturb livestock or wildlife. On open access land they have to be kept on short leads from 1st March to 31st July — and all year round near sheep. Close supervision is also required on public rights of way.”