Landowners have called for a common-sense measure to allow them to divert footpaths on a temporary basis where there is a risk of harm to the public, dogs or livestock.
The call is made in response to the report of an influential group of MPs and Peers calling for more action to tackle the growing problem of livestock worrying. This involves dogs off leads chasing and attacking sheep and cattle. The report shows that more than 1800 farm animals have been killed, more than 1600 have been injured and more than 90 dogs have been shot in ‘worrying’ incidents.
These statistics are likely to be the tip of the iceberg and the CLA has supported the Group’s call to make livestock worrying a recordable crime to ensure more accurate records.
The CLA has welcomed the report, but has suggested that urgent action is taken to give landowners and local authorities the power to put in place temporary diversions of public footpaths and bridleways to reduce the risk of harm when the land is being used for animal grazing.
CLA Legal Adviser Andrew Gillett said: “Diverting footpaths temporarily is a common-sense measure that could make a major difference for farmers and the general public. We will continue to press for this to be available as an option where the risk of harm is apparent.
“We want people to be able to enjoy the countryside, especially dog walkers, but it is vital that people and animals are kept safe.”
The CLA supports the Countryside Code and urges dog walkers in particular to think carefully about how they look after their animals, especially keeping them on a lead when around livestock.