The MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch has backed fresh efforts to tackle sheep worrying across the Highlands and Islands.
Kate Forbes MSP described the problem as “frankly shameful”, as her SNP colleague Emma Harper MSP launched an online consultation on her own private Member’s Bill on the matter.
According to statistics from the Crown Office, the number of offences of dogs attacking livestock have increased by over 40 per cent during the past decade (2008 to 2018).
Kate Forbes MSP said: “The frequency of sheep worrying in the Highlands is frankly shameful.
“Dog owners should know that their dogs need to be on a lead near livestock and yet, despite that, we’ve had case after case of sheep worrying.
“The emotional trauma of watching animals suffer is one thing, but the financial costs is significant too.
“I am fully supportive of my colleague Emma Harper’s efforts to crack down on sheep worrying and it’s good to see my fellow SNP MSP standing up for rural interests.
“The consultation has now launched and it is well worth all farmers, crofters and others engaging with that.
“This is an issue that affects farmers and crofters in my constituency. Most dog walkers are careful and caring – but sadly not all appear to be, based on the spate of attacks.”
South of Scotland list MSP Emma Harper added: “The consequences of an off lead dog in a field of livestock can be devastating and traumatic for both the farmer and their animals.
“My proposals seek to toughen the law so that more dog owners are deterred from letting their dog off a lead in the countryside by introducing a range of tougher penalties, as well as improved investigation powers.
“I would like to thank all of the organisations and members of the public - as well as colleagues from across chamber, such as from Kate Forbes MSP - involved in supporting my proposals to date and I would encourage everyone to have their say.”