In some ways, the countryside is similar to urban environments – we all have responsibilities as well as rights, writes John Traynor
Each Spring, lambs are born and we hear sad tales of them being abandoned by their mothers. As keen outdoor folk, we need to know not only to take care of ourselves and families but also the animals we meet along the way.
Whilst many dog owners are used to taking care around livestock, some walkers are unaware that if their dog was to chase the sheep, even if they don’t attack, pregnant ewes and lambs can become distressed or stumble and fall, which can result in a tragedy.
Briony Davey, Lake District National Park Farming Officer, said, “It’s so important that people understand why they are being asked to keep their dogs under close control at this crucial time of year. It’s a time when the National Park starts to come alive, and we would like as many people to get out and enjoy this beautiful place as possible. We just ask people to be aware of the impact they can have and please keep their dogs under close control, preferably on a lead.”
Farmers, of course, also have a responsibility to us when we’re enjoying our time outdoors. Knowing you are on a public footpath that confers a right of way is not much help when confronted with a herd of cows, a bull or even just a sign. That’s especially true when you’re out with children.
Discretion usually wins over insisting on rights, in most cases.
According to Ramblers, between 2006 and 2011, the Health and Safety Executive reported over 50 incidents in which members of the public were injured by cattle; eight resulted in a fatality.
In comics, it’s usually a snorting bull that confronts walkers, but a herd of curious cows thundering towards you won’t be stopped by declaring your right to be there.
Toddlers are best introduced to animals outdoors in places and situations where parents have total control of the situation such as here at the Cotswold Farm Park. Kids are safe, parents are happy and the learning goes on with confidence extended.
National body Ramblers has excellent advice on animals and rights of way.