Mountaineering Ireland has asked the public not to take their dogs onto the hills over Christmas and the new-year period.
The national representative body for hillwalkers and climbers’ appeal comes following a serious incident in the Knockmealdowns last week.
According to the association, more than 30 sheep were killed, others were injured, and some remain missing.
A stray dog in the vicinity of Knockmeal and Crohan West in the Knockmealdowns, close to Newcastle in Co. Tipperary was responsible for a “series” of attacks.
The landowners include Bridget King from King’s Yard and her husband, Stephen Ryan, who have an out-farm at Crohan.
Taking dogs onto hills
The body said the couple are well-known to walkers from across Munster and further afield, as they welcome them to their farm, south of Galtymore, the highest peak in the Galtee Mountains.
When asked if dogs on leads were acceptable, Bridget said: “We have seen too many people go up with the dog on a lead and then leave them off up the hill.”
“This is happening more since Covid. The message is simple. Do not bring dogs up the mountain. There are many tracks in the forest and looped walks away from livestock where people can take their dogs.”
“This is an animal welfare issue. Many people do not realise the suffering their dog can cause to sheep and wildlife.”
“It happens so quickly and easily. Sheep will run from a dog, and the dog gives chase. That’s enough to cause harm to the sheep.”
She said sheep might die from the stress or injuries caused, while others get caught in briars or wire.
Appeal for information
Mountaineering Ireland is appealing to anyone in the Crohan West to Knockmeal area of the Knockmealdowns over the last week, contacting the Gardaí in Cahir with any relevant information they may have, however “insignificant it might seem”.
To do so, call Cahir Garda Station on 052 7445630.
Keep dogs under control
In a statement, access & conservation officer at Mountaineering Ireland, Helen Lawless, said:
“Many of us are looking forward to getting up the mountains over the holidays.”
“It is one of the best ways to relax or to meet with friends in these times, but please do not take dogs into upland areas.”
“The failure of a minority of dog owners to keep their dogs under control means that dogs are not welcome in most upland areas,” she concluded.