Peak District dog-walkers are being asked to keep their pets on short leads to protect young animals during the breeding season.
Peak District National Park rangers remind pet-owners that by law, they must keep their dogs under control so that they do not scare farm animals, birds and wildlife.
National park field services area manager Andy Farmer said: “We are delighted to see people walking their dogs in the countryside, but we ask them to keep their pets on short leads during this particularly sensitive time, until July 31.
“Sheep and lambs can be badly injured by uncontrolled dogs during the lambing season. Ground-nesting birds like curlew and lapwing, and wild creatures such as hares, are also easily disturbed.
“For its own safety, never let a dog approach or chase wildlife and farm animals - your dog can get kicked, trampled or lost, and it could be shot for chasing livestock.
“If cattle turn on your dog, it’s best to unclip the lead - a dog can usually look after itself, don’t risk getting hurt by trying to protect it. Get out of the field as quickly as possible, then call your dog as soon as you are out of danger.
“Legally, you do not have to use a lead on public paths, but you should be extra-vigilant in the breeding season, and always use a lead if you can’t rely on your dog’s obedience.”
Dog owners have a responsibility under the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act to keep their dogs on a lead around wildlife between March 1 and July 31 and at any time near farm animals.
At certain times, even dogs on leads are not allowed on some areas to protect sensitive breeding sites - owners should obey the signs.
To report incidents involving dogs on farmland or moors contact the police on 0345 123 3333 or Peak District National Park rangers on 01433 670216 (weekends) or 01629 816290 (weekdays).
Specialist advice about dogs on moorland is available on www.pawsonthemoors.org or for more general advice, go to www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk
Read more about good practice - walking, climbing and your dog and taking care around cattle.
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