New legislation aimed at addressing the increasing level of attacks on livestock, including raising the maximum fine to £40,000, has been debated in the Scottish Parliament.
It is in the form of a Members Bill and has been taken forward from the outset by South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper.
The Bill, which has the backing of Scottish farmers and their representative bodies, outdoor access groups and dog walkers alike, will provide additional powers for the investigation and enforcement of the offence of livestock worrying and will increase the maximum penalties available to the courts.
The Bill also extends the definition of ‘livestock’ to include additional types of farmed animal such as llamas, deer, and buffalo.
An amendment to increase the maximum available penalty to 12 months imprisonment or a fine of £40,000, or both is likely to be included as the Bill moves to the next stage.
Ms Harper said: “My Protection of Livestock (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill has received unanimous backing from Scotland’s leading agricultural, animal welfare and outdoor access bodies.
“It received over 800 responses to the consultation from farmers, dog owners and those involved with the agricultural community who agreed that the current legislation is outdated and who were supportive of the principles of the Bill.
“The Bill will provide the Police and legal bodies with additional powers which are designed to better investigate and enforce the offence of livestock worrying, it extends the legal definition of livestock and strengthens the penalties for those who carry out the offence.”
Organisations including Farmers Guardian have been working with MPs on the All Party Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare to introduce similar legislation in England and Wales.