Dog walkers will no longer have access to farmland under a new nationwide ban rolled out by the IFA on Monday.

National sheep chair Seán Dennehy said farmers whose livestock are under threat from attacks have no choice but to refuse walkers with dogs access to their land.

As part of the IFA campaign, farmers will be putting up “No Dogs Allowed” posters on farm gates across the country.

“A growing number of reckless owners have brought this on everybody else, and the inaction of authorities has forced farmers down this route,” Dennehy said.

“How many more farmers have to encounter their sheep torn apart by dogs or frightened into ditches and drains before those responsible are held to account?

“Farmers have lost confidence in the willingness of the authorities to deal with this issue.”

The IFA reminds dog owners that sheep farmers are entitled under law to shoot a dog on their property if their flock is threatened.

All of these incidents are preventable. Tougher penalties are now more than justified

Meanwhile, ICSA sheep chair Seán McNamara has called for tougher penalties for dog owners who fail to control their pets around livestock.

“Current penalties do not correlate with the damage done when dogs are free to run loose in rural settings and attack livestock.

“All of these incidents are preventable. Tougher penalties are now more than justified.

“Fines of €100 are doing nothing to deter incidents of sheep worrying happening year after year.

“It is unbelievably distressing to walk out and find dead or dying ewes. Even if the sheep are not directly attacked and have no visible injuries, they can die from the shock alone.”

Hunting dogs

The National Association of Regional Game Councils (NARGC) national chair Dan Curley told the Irish Farmers Journal that it is unnecessary to prevent hunting dogs from accessing farmland as part of the ongoing dog walker ban from the IFA.

“I hope our dogs aren’t included in the ban. Most wouldn’t bother sheep. I know it’s a very bad time for farmers. These attacks are a scourge.

“Our members are in constant communication with farmers and have good relations when it comes to bringing dogs on their land. The dogs are only interested in catching foxes. The foxes are more of a risk to sheep than our dogs.”