Warwickshire Police urge caution as people take walks through the countryside

Warwickshire Police are asking people to be mindful about where they go as they take walks through the countryside for their daily exercise.

There have been a number of concerns raised by local farmers and landowners recently about people trespassing onto land and leaving gates open, or dog walkers not keeping their dogs under control and leaving dog mess behind.

There have also been a number of incidents where lambs and ewes have been chased and killed after being worried by dogs.

When in the countryside police are asking people to remember the following:

- Follow the government guidelines on essential travel.

- Always close gates after you have opened them. As numerous people may be touching the same gates, latches and stiles, take precautions where you can and be considerate, to reduce any risks as much as possible.

- Always stick to public right of ways and do not go onto private farmland without permission.

• When using a public footpath, you and your dog(s) need to keep to the line of the path and the dog should either be on a lead or under close control.

Warwickshire Police are urging people to be cautious and mindful when they take walks through the countryside - keeping their dogs on a lead

• Do not allow your dog to enter a field on its own and keep your dog on a lead when crossing through fields that contain livestock.

• If you know your dog has previously chased or attacked sheep then take responsible measures to prevent it happening again. Dogs can seriously injure and kill sheep - and as well as the animal welfare aspect, this can have a huge impact on rural livelihoods.

• Please always pick up after your dog and take it home or put it in the nearest bin - don’t leave bags in hedges or at the side of a field.

Rural Crime Officer Carol Cotterill said: “We do understand people are at home a lot more at the moment, and many of us like to take their daily exercise in the open countryside if it is right on their doorsteps.

“We would just ask everyone to please be mindful of their surroundings and to be responsible. By being considerate and reducing risks at this difficult time, it will make a difference and will help to support our farmers who are working extremely hard to keep shops supplied.

“Thank you in anticipation for your support on this. Remember to wash your hands when you return home, to abide by the government guidelines and to stay safe.”

NFU Warwickshire county adviser George Bostock said: “Farmers recognise the importance of the public rights of way network, especially at a time like this when people need to take extra care to maintain their physical and mental health, however, they should not be making unnecessary journeys.

“The health of those living and working in the countryside also has to be safeguarded and walkers need to be aware of their role in protecting rural people – this is also a busy time in the farming calendar with plenty of young lambs around and we ask dog owners to take extra precautions when walking through farmland and ensuring they are kept on a lead.”