Staffin crofter’s alarm at roaming dogs near livestock

DOG owners are being reminded of their responsibilities when walking near livestock in Staffin.

There have been recent worrying incidents in the Brogaig area which has seen terrified sheep end up in ditches after dogs have been let off their leads to roam.

A worried local crofter highlighted his concerns to the Staffin Community Trust after recently speaking to two different dog owners asking them to keep their pets on leads when walking in the Brogaig common grazing area near his sheep. “I have been finding my sheep in drains afterwards,” he said. “The dogs must be kept under control far better than they are at moment. The sheep are getting heavier now and this is not helping them.”

A misconception among some pet owners is that dogs who do not bite livestock or try to attack them are harmless. However, sheep are currently ‘in lamb’ i.e, pregnant, as they approach giving birth in April.

Sign installed by Staffin Community Trust at Brothers Point.

If they are chased or alarmed by roaming dogs then it can affect their unborn lamb(s) and, in the worst cases, the stress can cause them to abort. The same issues applies to cattle.

The vast majority of dog owners are responsible when walking their animals in Staffin, which has very little public land. The district is still a very active crofting community and livestock are close by in most areas.

Crofters can legally shoot roaming dogs in order to protect other animals. The Staffin incidents come after two sheep were killed in Glenbrittle a year ago by a rogue dog.

At the time, the Portree-based police sergeant Andrew Shaw said that dog owners were reminded that ‘allowing dogs to chase livestock or be at large among livestock’ is an offence.