In 2016, following recurring problems with walkers and dogs, eight bright yellow warning notices were erected in sensitive livestock farming areas from Glenapp to Heads of Ayr. Walkers with dogs are expected to be responsible and keep their animals on the lead when passing through this land – or risk their dogs being shot if they get out of control and chase or worry sheep or cattle.
Recurrently over the past years, in local and national Press, BBC News, Countryfile, and Landward programmes, there have been numerous harrowing reports of sheep being killed by dogs, or worried and aborting their lambs, or chased into rivers and drowned. Just how much information do some mindless individuals need to get it into their skulls that their pet dogs, sheep and cattle do not mix!
Lambing is now in full swing along the Ayrshire coast, and we have already received reports of two incidents in the Dunure area of thoughtless, irresponsible, walkers ignoring Warning Notices and letting their dogs run uncontrolled in lambing fields.
The first was a man with an uncontrolled collie cutting right through a flock of pregnant ewes, which scattered frantically. This was witnessed by the angry farmer who said that few weeks later and he would have had 300 panicking ewes separated from their lambs – leading to loss of vital mother and lamb bonding.
The second was a woman with two loose collies running through a similar field, who – when approached by the landowner and asked to put them on a lead – said she didn’t have one!! How irresponsible can you get?
Having said this, very few genuine walkers on the Ayrshire Coastal Path ever take dogs with them. The problem seems to arise from local residents, or urban people in cars letting their dogs out for a run.
Since 2008, we have repeatedly emphasised on the ACP Website, the Guide Book, and our Farming and Outdoor Access panels at either end of this section, about the necessity of keeping all dogs at home – or on their leads when passing through fields of livestock – and that failure of walkers to act responsibly could easily result in closure of a part of the Coastal Path.
It would be helpful for walkers to identify such individuals, and where possible notify the local farmer to let him deal with the problem immediately.
Dr. Jimmy Begg, Trail Manager, Ayrshire Coastal Path