More people than ever are taking to walks in the countryside during the Covid-19 crisis, but farmers are urging them to abide by the 'countryside code'.
Hill farmers are concerned about recreational users not abiding by the code, particularly during lambing season.
The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) National Hill Committee Chairman is Flor McCarthy says dog walkers are a concern.
“The problem is exacerbated due to the increase of recreational users as a result of the Coronavirus, as many other activities are closed off."
Flor McCarthy said that while it is encouraging that people are getting out on hills and taking exercise on the various dedicated trails, IFA is reminding hillwalkers that they must have respect for farmers property and abide by the Comhairle na Tuaithe countryside code.
This code stipulates that dogs cannot be taken onto trails, regardless if they are on a lead or not. It is currently lambing season, and this adds extra risk for both farmers and dog walkers.
While most people observe the code there are some who blatantly disregard it. It has also come to IFA’s attention that dogs are wandering off Coillte and National Parks trails onto private land.
The IFA hill farming leader said that people are welcome to use the dedicated and agreed walks throughout the country as this time of national crisis, provided that they observe the rules with regard to the exclusion of dogs.
The countryside codes includes the following:
1. PLAN AHEAD AND PREPARE
2. BE RESPECTFUL OF OTHERS
3. RESPECT FARM ANIMALS AND WILDLIFE
4. KEEP TO DURABLE GROUND
5. LEAVE WHAT YOU FIND
6. DISPOSE OF WASTE PROPERLY