Dogs and the Cairngorms National Park

The Cairngorms National Park Authority has, with Scottish Natural Heritage,  issued a short educational video on dog walking in the National Park https://t.co/ZsYpjNosWL   This is to be welcomed.  The Land Reform Review Group, which reported to the last Scottish Parliament, concluded that access rights were working well but there were a number of areas where further education was needed.   Dog walking was the priority area for further work (camping was not seen as a major issue at all and the Review Group rejected representations from the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority that the legislation needed to be amended to remove the right to camp by roads).   The CNPA video should be seen as a positive initiative by a public authority to implement the recommendations of the Land Reform Review Group.

 

SNH also, to its credit, engaged with commercial dog walkers to draw up a new code of practice.  An exemplary way to do things in contrast to the LLTNPA who failed to engage seriously with recreational organisations about how to educate people about reducing the impacts of wild camping.

 

The dog video, which is aimed at visitors, includes information on the impacts of dogs on wildlife.   Good stuff and something that I think Dick Balharry, the great Scottish ecologist who died last year, would have approved of – I remember him saying to me how he thought there should be NO dogs in National Nature Reserves.    This, however,  begs the question about landowners dogs.   Anyone who has walked by estate buildings in the National Park will have experienced the howling of dogs in kennels and earlier this year I came across a very nice keeper (he kept his most dangerous looking dog by his side as we passed!)  running six or seven dogs at Dalnaspidal.    The purpose of these dogs of course is to assist with hunting and what is not said publicly at present is that this includes anything that the estates perceive as vermin or might prey on red grouse.  For estate dogs helps keepers track down ground nesting raptors, mountain hares and stoats all of which are persecuted in the National Park.    I suspect estate dogs are responsible for far more damage to wildlife on grouse moors than visitors dogs but let’s not wait for a three year scientific study before anyone acts on this.

 

So, my question is when will the National Park and SNH be producing a video on good practice for local estates?    Indeed, should they not go further and introduce licensing of dogs on estates and set conditions about what they can be used for?   Or follow Dick Balharry and ban dogs completely from National Nature Reserves or indeed the National Park and make legitimate hunting a bit more challenging?.    I suspect if any of this were to happen the number of dogs in estate kennels would drop dramatically.

16 Comments on “Dogs and the Cairngorms National Park

  1. Unless dog owners are to be the newly persecuted, taking over the role previously occupied by mountain bikers, please be sensible about this.
    Educating dog owners to keep their dog on a short lead from April until October is preferable to banning all dog owners from NPs. Those of us who love their dogs responsibly, tend to be the same group who love the
    Landscape and natural world responsibly

    1. Jean, my quoting from memory of Dick Balharry’s views was about National Nature Reserves not National Parks. Sorry if I gave the impression I was suggesting that dogs should be banned from National Parks. I think the issue is if we expect visitors’ dogs in certain places – such as nature reserves – to be controlled, eg on a short lead, should not landowners dogs’ be also controlled in the same way?

      1. “Or follow Dick Balharry and ban dogs completely from National Nature Reserves or indeed the National Park “.
        I think considering the above, that anybody reading your comment would have got exactly the same impression as Jean, that you would indeed like to ban dogs from the National Parks!

        1. Rosemary have already apologised for giving that impression. People have a right to own dogs and our national parks cover many settlements so could never ban dogs within their boundaries. The point of my post was to ask why all the focus of cnpa is on damage by visitors dogs rather without any consideration of whether how working dogs are used may account for absence certain predators from much of the national park

  2. You have absolutely no idea what working dogs do. I would suggest you go and get yourself educated by talking and spending time with the game keepers and land owners and their dogs. Your article is clearly written by someone with an ill informed agenda created by ignorance and a lack of willing to learn.

    1. Andrew i’d be very happy to publish An article from you explaining why estate dogs have no role in wildlife persecution that has taken place on certain estates. I am happy to learn but whether dogs damage wildlife has as much to do with the owner, whether visitor or land manager, than the dog

  3. “The purpose of these dogs of course is to assist with hunting and what is not said publicly at present is that this includes anything that the estates perceive as vermin or might prey on red grouse. For estate dogs helps keepers track down ground nesting raptors, mountain hares and stoats all of which are persecuted in the National Park. I suspect estate dogs are responsible for far more damage to wildlife on grouse moors than visitors dogs but let’s not wait for a three year scientific study before anyone acts ” ….what a load of nonsense. Written by someone who hasn’t a clue !!!

    1. So Dr Davis how do you explain how raptor persecution on our grouse moors has been so effective if dogs have no role in this? Perhaps you could explain how you are so certain that dogs are not used as i suggested? If dogs arent used to persecute wildlife then i cannot see anything to prevent landowners signing up to a code of practice just like the cnpa has produced for visitors

  4. Estate dogs owned by the landowners are likely to be spaniels, pointers, labradors used as gundogs, collies for sheep and cattle and maybe terriers they are working and companion dogs, a vital part of running an estate for farming and rearing, running a gamebird operation or deer management, the above article is written by someone whohas absolutely no knowledge or commonsense about land management! ! Some of the claims made are totally spurious if not downright libellous

    1. Thanks Heather helpful to outline legitimate role estate dogs not least for companionship – it can be a lonely job. But whàt is libellous about asking about whether estate dogs also have a role in wildlife persecution? Not everywhere glen feshie uses dogs fpr walked up grouse shooting and also was place the hen harrier that was found killed near newtonmore was ringed.

  5. As a Paths for All board member well you publicly apologise to Scottish Keepers for your slanderous comments?

    1. Andy what is the slander? I do a number of things apart from parkswatch which i am open about including paths for all which is about improving access and physical activity. This discussion is clearly outwith pfa remit and equally clearly i have a right to speak on matters outwith my other roles – as you do

  6. More paths equals more visitors with their unruly dogs, so lets just ban “paths for all” from invading more of our country-side, if urban people need exercise they can get it in their local park or even just a walk around the block instead of driving for miles into the country. This “expert” has clearly demonstrated a distinct lack of knowledge or understanding of working dogs and their role in the running of country estates. This is a clear attack on gamekeepers and the usual mantra of “persecution of raptors”, the comment that the keeper at Dalnaspidal kept his most “dangerous” looking dog by his side shows just what a joke this man is.

    1. Billy whose is the “our” countryside you refer to? Have you ever heard people who live in towns suggesting people who live in the countryside should keep away from towms? Our national parks countryside anf towns shoulf in my view be for everybody.

      1. I live in a town but have spent all of my adult life visiting the country-side on a regular basis and by the term “our” country-side I mean those who understand the ways of the country-side and you in your article have shown that you do not have an understanding. Your feeble statement about a gamekeepers “dangerous dog” is almost childish as such an animal would be of no use to a keeper who’s dogs will be highly trained to find, flush and retrieve game. Look at the scientists who work in the country-side and you will find they also use trained dogs for finding nests and for counting their study species are you including them in your assumption that keepers dogs are kept for the illegal persecution of raptors?

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