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Worried about Worrying?

Worried about Worrying?

There have been several high profile cases of sheep worrying in Scotland over the last few months and a resulting increase in press coverage but what rights does a landowner have?
Legislation covers livestock worrying in Scotland in the form of (i) the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953, (ii) The Animals (Scotland) Act 1987 and (iii) the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.

The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 is designed to punish the owner of any dog found worrying livestock on agricultural land. The term 'livestock' covers sheep, cattle and poultry and other animals; 'agricultural land' includes grazing land, such as hillsides and moorlands where sheep are found. Criminal fines can be imposed on people who have allowed their dogs to act in a worrying or aggressive manner.

Section 4 of The Animals (Scotland) Act 1987 allows a landowner, livestock owner or employee of either, to kill or injure an animal which causes damage to livestock provided the person acting can show that:-
a. he has acted in (i) self defence; (ii) for the protection of any other person; or (iii) for the protection of any livestock;
b. they believed there was no other means of ending the attack and that the attacking animal was not under the control of any person in the vicinity; and
c. within 48 hours after the killing or injury to an attacking animal the person who acted accounts to a police officer or attends at a police station to confirm that they acted and provide reasons.

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 provides that members of the public should not be on to land with a dog which is not under proper control. There is however little that the the Landowner / livestock owner can do to take action / obtain compensation for a breach of the law in terms of the 2003 legislation.

If you have any queries in relation to livestock worrying please do get in touch with our specialist Land & Rural Business team.

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