WalkNI are encouraging walkers not to take their dogs onto the hills and other farmland in Northern Ireland because of the threat they pose to sheep and their lambs.
The presence of a dog, even one that’s on a lead, can cause stress to sheep and when dogs are off their leads sheep may be chased and injured. Ulster Farmers’ Union deputy president David Brown added to this by commenting, “All dogs regardless of breed or size, pose a threat to livestock especially at this time of year when ewes are heavily pregnant and any chase by dogs no matter how small can result in a ewe aborting her unborn lambs.”
During the pandemic the volume of people visiting the countryside with their pets has soared and due to a minority of dog owners failing to keep their dogs under control this has resulted in dogs not being welcome in most upland and other farmland areas.
There are lots of walks on WalkNI.com, many of which are in forests and parks, which welcome dogs. Please check the dog policy for each walk on WalkNI.com within each individual walk listing as it varies for each walk and if you do plan to bring your dog to one of these walks please ensure it is under effective control at all times.
When planning your walk it is important to adhere to current government guidelines on outdoor exercise by only visiting areas which are within 10 miles from your home.