Dog owners are reminded to keep their dogs on leads at all times whilst visiting uplands to avoid disturbing endangered ground nesting birds and livestock.
At this time of year ground nesting birds are particularly vulnerable and can abandon their nest if disturbed. The lambing season is also well underway and people are urged not to let their dogs run free and unnecessarily disturb livestock at this crucial time.
Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture said:
‘While the Department encourages people to visit our beautiful countryside we ask people to respect the wildlife they share it with. This is a year-round concern but of particular importance during breeding and lambing season which runs until August.’
The recent mild weather combined with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions has led to an increase in people visiting the countryside to exercise, but has also led to numerous reports of dogs running freely in the uplands.
Minister Boot, added:
‘The vast majority of people that visit the countryside are sensible, but the irresponsible few can cause easily avoidable distress to wildlife. By being a responsible a dog owner you are helping to ensure that our wildlife can be enjoyed by future generations.’
Under the Wildlife Act (WLA) 1990 it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb nesting birds and anyone found doing so could face a maximum fine of £10,000.