Dog walkers encouraged to take the lead at NI Water sites
16 December 2021 13:32
NI Water is appealing to the public to take care of their dog and take the lead when visiting any of its beauty spots.
2021 saw another record year for visitors to NI Water sites. Custodian of many picturesque areas across Northern Ireland, NI Water is proud to host visitors to many of these sites. However, visitors are reminded that the policy across all NI Water sites is to keep dogs on leads at all times. This is to ensure the safety of both your pets and local wildlife.
Many sites owned by NI Water, such as areas of the Mourne Mountains and Garron Plateau, are also used by local farmers to graze livestock.
Kerry Morris, Catchment Officer explains: “Often the presence of a dog is enough to spook a sheep and cause it to harm itself in an attempt to get to safety. A dog does not need to attack a sheep to cause it harm. If a dog is found to be worrying sheep, its owners may face a fine of up to £1000 if found guilty of the offence.
“Dogs can also worry cattle and unknowingly carry bacteria into the area, which affects cattle health. We ask that all visitors to NI Water lands follow the Countryside Code for Northern Ireland and keep dogs on leads at all times and bag and bin all dog waste.
“Our countryside areas provide important habitat for a diverse range of wildlife. Keeping your dog on a lead keeps our wildlife safe. As we come into the colder months, we would ask people to be mindful that birds need to conserve their fat reserves during the winter. Any disturbances may cause them to need to use these reserves which may mean they end up in poor condition, unable to survive the winter, or be unable to breed again come spring.”
NI Water thanks all our visitors who keep their dogs on leads when enjoying the countryside. Check with Dog Friendly NI for a list of dog parks suitable for off lead exercise.
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