Bradford Council is appealing to dog owners to keep their pet on a short lead to protect wildlife during ground nesting season and livestock such as sheep during lambing season.

The law says on Open Access Land and at the coast dogs must be kept on a lead around livestock, and between 1 March and 31 July you must have your dog on a lead that is no more than 2m long on Open Access land, even if there is no livestock on the land.

There is also a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which requires dogs to be put on a lead if requested by a Council officer, a fixed penalty can be issued on refusal – this covers open spaces in the Bradford district including Ilkley and Burley Moor.

These are in place to protect ground nesting birds such as curlew, lapwing and skylark during the UK ground-nesting season which is March to July and also to protect livestock, such as sheep during lambing season, which can run up to as late as June. A farmer can shoot a dog that is attacking or chasing livestock. They may not be liable to compensate the dog’s owner.

Danny Jackson from Bradford Council’s Countryside and Rights of Way team, said: “It’s great to see so many people enjoying our beautiful natural areas across the district, including our moorland and we are urging everyone to follow the Countryside Code.

“Dogs are naturally inquisitive, but this can lead to real problems, especially from February to the end of summer, when many species are breeding. It’s not only the impact on ground-nesting birds, but dogs roaming free can disturb other wildlife including amphibians and mammals, as well as grazing livestock. Please stick to the Countryside Code and walk your dog responsibly.”

The owner of Bingley and Burley Moor, said: “Locally we’re aware of at least three sheep being lost recently due to people not keeping their dogs under control. The distress and exhaustion from being chased can cause pregnant animals to miscarry or die, even if a dog does not make any contact with livestock. Young lambs can also become separated from their mothers which can lead to them becoming orphaned. We are urging anyone walking in the countryside to not ignore the signs and follow the Countryside Code”

For information on the Countryside Code and the law around dog walking in the countryside visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code/the-countryside-code-advice-for-countryside-visitors