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With the August Bank Holiday just around the corner, thousands of people will be out enjoying the beautiful countryside this weekend. So CLA South East, which represents landowners and farmers across the Isle of Wight and beyond, is urging the public to stick to footpaths, bridleways and respect other users of the rights of way.

The spirit of the Countryside Code is generally adhered to by the majority of people, but there are a few worrying trends that are either based on anti-social behaviour or a lack of awareness of the working countryside.

Common problems include littering, fly-tipping and mismanaging dogs. Accessing the fresh air and getting close to nature have widely researched health and wellbeing benefits, but visitors and their dogs need to act responsibly.

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Megan Lock, Rural Adviser at CLA South East, said:

“Livestock worrying by dogs that are not adequately controlled by their owners is on the increase.

“There are almost daily reports of sheep worrying, including a proliferation of graphic images of animals on social media, especially sheep, that have been slaughtered by out of control dogs.

“Livestock attacks cost the farming industry £1.3 million a year in lost revenue and 15,000 sheep are killed each year by dogs. Meanwhile the British Horse Society has reported more than 640 incidents in four years, and in 30 per cent of cases, the rider falling from their mount. One case resulted in a rider’s fatality.

“Landowners and farmers welcome visitors to share in the natural and farmer-shaped beauty of our county’s countryside. Following the Countryside Code and using common sense and courtesy is the least we can do as an unspoken ‘thank you’ to the custodians of our rural landscape.”

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