A well-known Aberdeenshire sheep breeder has backed a new partnership to tackle rural and remote crime.
Robbie Wilson, who runs the successful Milnbank flock of pedigree Texels at North Dorlaithers Farm, near Turriff, has ongoing problems with dogs in fields he rents around the Turriff showground.
He has welcomed the launch of the North East Scotland Rural Crime & Safety Partnership and said more needs to be done to educate the public about the consequences of allowing dogs to roam in fields with livestock.
The partnership, which includes more than 20 partners involved in rural affairs, aims to tackle rural and remote crime in the north-east.
“I graze all around the town in Turriff and I have problems all the time with people and their dogs,” said Mr Wilson.
“Ninety-nine percent of the people are fine but there’s that 1% of people who walk through the fields with dogs off leads and the sheep are running off in all directions.”
NFU Scotland regional manager for the north-east, Lorna Paterson, blamed the problem on a lack of understanding among members of the public about what constituted responsible use of the countryside.
She said: “The access code says you have the right to roam in Scotland but it’s about responsible use of access.”
Detective Superintendent Murray Main, from Police Scotland’s north-east division and chairman of the new rural crime and safety partnership, said that although livestock worrying incidents had increased in the past year, detection rates had also increased to 73.3%.
He said: “Our message is consistent. If people are in a countryside area and in a field, keep your dog on a lead. This is not about trying to prevent people coming out to use the countryside. It’s about doing it responsibly.”
He encouraged farmers to report livestock worrying incidents and cases of dog owners not keeping their pets under control.