Dog owners who visit or live in the Forest of Dean are encouraged to keep their pets on a leash in an effort to stem the increase in attacks on roaming sheep.
Sheep racing on public lands is a forestry tradition that dates back over 800 years.
But members of the Sheep Liaison Group are concerned about the increase in dog owners during the lockdown and how poorly trained dogs can wreak havoc on livestock and wildlife if they are not. mastered.
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The liaison group is made up of representatives from the Commoners’ Association, Forestry England, Forest District Council, Gloucestershire County Council and the police.
About 20 sheep have been killed in the forest in recent months due to dog attacks and road accidents, according to commoners.
And the chair of the liaison group, Clare Greaves, wants to educate the public about the dangers untrained dogs pose to livestock and other animals.
“People need to understand that if they want the privilege of leaving their dog off leash, they need to have a well-trained dog and they need to understand the risks and the responsibility,” she said.
“There are times of the year when it is irresponsible for a dog owner to leave their pet off the lead.
“A responsible dog owner who follows the rules reduces the likelihood of a problem occurring.
“We want to educate people about their duties and responsibilities in dog ownership.
“It’s a disaster if your dog is not insured, trained and has no microchip and something happens.
“Before anyone lets their dog let go in the forest, they should remember that sheep are gentle, gentle animals that are very vulnerable during late gestation and lambing.
“Before releasing their dogs, people have to be absolutely convinced that their dog is sufficiently well trained around the cattle.
“Even if the dog doesn’t take blood. The pursuit of the sheep is enough to induce the abortion.
“The consequences are horrible.
“We want to remind people who bought a puppy during the pandemic and haven’t had the opportunity to attend puppy training classes that training is available.”
She said people who don’t know where or how to train their dogs should approach the Association of Companion Dog Trainers to find a trainer.
“This will allow them to fulfill their duty of making sure their dog has the proper training.
“Now, proper training if you live in London’s West End is very different from proper training if you take your dog to the Forest of Dean.
Forest of Dean regulations also state that no one should allow a dog to disturb, worry, or chase an animal.
Commoners’ Association general secretary Mick Holder has said he would like Forestry England to do more to enforce these regulations.
“It would solve a bucket full of our problems and it would also minimize the suffering,” he said.
And County Councilor Terry Hale (Drybrook & Lydbrook, Con), who is also a member of the Liaison Group, believes all dog walkers should keep their pets on a leash when out in the forest.
“It has to come. I wish people had licenses and insurance for their dogs.
Anyone who sees an attacked or dead sheep in the Forest of Dean should call Mr. Holder on 01594 827485.
Forestry England has been approached for comment.
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