Please act responsibly when using public rights of way

Photo of a public right of way

Posted on: 20 January 2021

With more people using Devon’s public rights of way and multi-use trails for their daily exercise during lockdown, Devon County Council has also received anecdotal evidence of increasing complaints about livestock being disturbed by dogs.

Dog owners are reminded to act responsibly and keep their dogs under close control. When walking your dog in areas used by other people it is advised that dogs are kept on a lead if a physical distance of two metres cannot be adhered to.

Care must also be taken when approaching animals with their young. Pregnant ewes and newborn lambs are especially vulnerable at this time of year.

Devon County Council, which is responsible for more than 3,100 miles of public rights of way, is asking people to adhere to the current Government advice on exercising outdoors and social distancing, and to be considerate to farmers and residents where rights of way pass close to or through residential or agricultural properties.

The current Government advice during lockdown is that you can leave your home to exercise and spend time outdoors for recreation, however this should be limited to once per day and should be in your local area.

Photo of Councillor John Hart

Councillor John Hart, Leader of Devon County Council

Devon County Council Leader John Hart said: “We’re seeing a substantial increase in people out walking in the countryside during lockdown, but in parallel we’re also starting to get more reports of livestock being disturbed by dogs. In the last week, two farmers in my division have had sheep attacked and one had to have a sheep put down because of the injuries sustained. Please remember, it’s lambing season, and pregnant ewes and newborn lambs are particularly vulnerable at this time of year. They can suffer significant injury if chased or attacked by a dog so it’s really important that people keep their dogs under control.

“We know that exercising and enjoying green space is vital to people’s physical and mental wellbeing, and we’re fortunate in Devon to have some of the best walking and cycling routes in the country. These routes provide a great opportunity for people to enjoy their local surroundings while getting their daily exercise and some fresh air during the current lockdown. We would urge everyone to please respect the land that you’re on, be aware of any livestock that you may be near and please give others plenty of space if you pass anyone while out and about.”

The Countryside Code provides more information on how to safely enjoy green spaces.

For more information go to our Public Rights of Way webpages.

Posted in: Environment