A farmer is closing permissive footpaths crossing the family farm due to irresponsible dog walkers not clearing up their animals’ mess spreading a deadly disease to his cattle.
Huw Rowlands of The Grange Farm, Mickle Trafford , says walkers will have to use alternative routes after October 31 as access to a permissive path is down to the landowner.
He warns that anyone entering the private farmland from this date will be trespassing and may face legal action.
The farmer says numerous incidents have included aggression from dog walkers, criminal damage and even drug taking on the land.
But his most serious concern is that rare breed cattle have had to be slaughtered after being infected by a parasite which lives in dog faeces.
He said: “Fields are not ‘just fields,’ but grow crops either for our Red Poll cattle to eat, or to be harvested. Dog muck contains a parasite called neospora caninum which causes our cows to give birth to dead calves. Some of our animals have been infected due to dog walkers leaving their pets’ muck on the fields.
“There is no cure for this disease and infected cows have to be slaughtered.”
He added: “Dog walkers who bag their dog muck and leave it hanging from fences and hedges are in addition responsible for the risk of cattle and wildlife choking and being killed by their refusal simply to take their mess to a bin. The welfare of our animals and wildlife is paramount and the risk posed to their health and wellbeing by irresponsible and trespassing dog walkers will not be tolerated.”
Mr Rowlands and his family have suffered several incidents of verbal abuse from dog walkers and other trespassers who have strayed from the official paths. Over the last twelve months there has also been ‘deliberate and criminal vandalism’ to fences, gates and signs leading directly to cattle escapes.
Mr Rowlands stressed that any further episodes would be dealt with in conjunction with the police and the National Farmers’ Union.
“We are now taking proactive steps to identify offenders and to take action against them. You do not have ‘the right’ to enter private land, to camp on it, to take illegal drugs on it, to ride all over it on horses, to steal fruit from it, to use it as a public toilet, or to let your dog run loose or worry cattle on it.
“We have suffered all of this in the last few weeks, and heard every excuse as to why this is ‘OK.’ It is not OK, and that is why the permissive footpaths are closing at midnight on 31 st October.”