South Scotland MSP and Scottish Labour’s Rural Economy Spokesperson Colin Smyth has appealed to the public, in particular dog owners, to be responsible when out walking in the countryside near their homes as lambing season gets underway.

The local MSP revealed that he has had a growing number of complaints from farmers that more and more people are choosing to take their daily service in local fields, and in some cases through busy farmyards, causing additional stress to livestock.

Colin Smyth is urging dog walkers in particular to keep their pets on a lead and away from sheep and lambs during walks.

Colin Smyth said: “I know more and more people are trying to get out and about as part of a daily exercise regime, especially in good weather, but everyone needs to be responsible.

“There is no excuse whatsoever to take dogs off a lead near sheep or lambs. If a dog scares a sheep or attacks one, it is highly likely the lamb will be lost.

“I have even had cases reported to me of mis-mothering due to the stress placed on the sheep by an increase in walkers. People should also avoid walking through busy farmyards. These are dangerous working environments where local farmers are doing their bit to keep food in our shops. We need to let them get on with that job in safety.

“I have had calls from some farmers groups to urge the Government to suspend the current right to roam laws. That however would take legislation and would penalise people who are being sensible and vigilant.

“But I have written to the Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing urging the Government to step up messaging on the need for people to be vigilant and to make clear that if any member of the public witnesses irresponsible behaviour to report it to the police who will take action.”

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