DIO and the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) have joined forces in the battle to stop dogs attacking cattle and sheep on Salisbury Plain.
About 150 temporary warning signs advising people how to manage their dogs around livestock will soon be seen in and around neighbouring fields on the Plain.
Some of the Ministry of Defence’s tenant farmers have already placed the leaflet-sized, bright yellow plastic NFU signs in strategic places, as the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) attempts to reduce the number of serious incidents involving cattle and sheep.
Salisbury Plain Training Area is maintained by the DIO, which delivers the training service, enabling defence training users to live, work, train and deploy at home and overseas.
Lieutenant Colonel Nigel Linge, Security and Access Officer for DIO Operations Training in the South West, said:
DIO’s priority is to support our Armed Forces as they prepare for operations, but we also have a duty of care to the public. Control of dogs is one of our biggest challenges on Salisbury Plain.
There have been a number of recent cases of dogs worrying livestock. We hope that these new signs will remind people about how to manage their dogs around livestock to protect their own safety and that of their animals.
Andi Witcombe, Wiltshire County Adviser for the NFU, said:
Our countryside is essentially the ‘shop floor’ used to produce England’s food. When it comes to public rights of way, farmers must adhere to rules and regulations which ensure that public health and safety is paramount.
But the public must also be mindful of potential risks and be responsible for their own, and their dogs’, actions within the working countryside to ensure the safety of themselves, their dogs and grazing livestock.
It is important that walkers and their dogs stick to designated public rights of way. Dogs must be kept under close and effective control around cows and sheep.
Advice from the Ramblers Association says that people should try to avoid getting between cows and their calves, and be prepared for cattle to react to their presence, especially if they have a dog.
They also advise not to hang on to your dog if you are being mobbed by cattle, but to let it go, allowing it to run to safety. Most importantly they say that you shouldn’t panic or run, most cattle will stop before they reach you. If they follow, just walk on quietly.
Jim Dufosee, a local tenant farmer welcomed the introduction of the new signs, commenting:
Last December there were 3 major incidents within 3 weeks in my fields at Warminster where young lambs were killed or seriously injured by out of control dogs.
I welcome the arrival of the new signs and have already put them up in and around my fields. I hope that they will encourage dog owners to keep their dogs under control around livestock.
At over 38,000 hectares (94,000 acres) Salisbury Plain is the UK’s largest training area and offers first-class and diverse training facilities to enable the British Army to meet its training requirements to prepare for operations worldwide.