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Dogs on a lead in the Peak District National Park. Paul Besley

Dogs on a lead in the Peak District National Park

I will admit that I am starting to get a Bee in my bonnet about dogs not on a lead and out of control.

This month a sheep was savaged to death in the Upper Derwent Valley by a dog off the lead. The sheep lambs have never been found, they are probably now dead. I have also posted disturbing images of lambs that have been killed by dogs this month elsewhere.

I love walking with my dog Scout, it is a real joy and he enjoys being out on the moors with me. Scout has passed three stock tests, designed to show whether or not he will worry or be attracted to sheep. That test is part of his registration to become a Mountain Rescue search dog, a stock test is crucial to pass, to demonstrate that when out on the hill looking for a casualty the dog will not run after sheep.

From the 1st March to the 31st July all dogs must be on a lead on Open Access land, near livestock or where there is ground nesting birds.

Scout is on a lead, even though I completely trust him around livestock. He may disturb ground nesting birds that I cannot see and that may scare them away from their nest and the chicks may die or the eggs never hatch. He is on a lead.

Some people just do not think the law applies to them.

I stopped a family of four on Saturday on the pipeline path alongside Ladybower, less than 100m from where the sheep was savaged to death by a dog. Their dog was running ahead in front of them, up and down banking, it was not on a lead. I asked them to place the dog on a lead, telling them it was a requirement at this time of year. They complied, but the father had to tell me his dog would never worry sheep and he was not happy about putting it on a lead.

The thing is this. That family had walked past a dozen signs telling them to put the dog on a lead and at least six signs telling them of the sheep that had been savaged. So what makes them so special, so different, that they have to ignore all those signs.

It isn’t stupidity or ignorance. It is arrogance and selfishness. That dog could be shot if a farmer thinks it will affect sheep. And that would not be the dogs fault.

I have in my mind some action to take, education seems to be the key, especially around ground nesting birds.