THE CLA is reiterating Government calls to limit outdoor exercise to once a day in addition to practising social distancing, and when they do so in the countryside to respect the Countryside Code, which helps to protect British landscapes as well as farmers and those living there.

The CLA which represents 30,000 landowners, farmers and rural business across England and Wales is urging the walkers, cyclists and horse riders to stick to public rights of way, keep dogs under control and take their litter home.

The CLA has published a dedicated advisory and information page (regularly updated) on the coronavirus – which can be accessed here:

* Livestock and wildlife worrying

The plea follows West Yorkshire Police reporting 38 sheep worrying incidents in the area over the last four days, highlighting dog attacks on numerous sheep in Ilkley and Oxenhope. These are all avoidable crimes, putting undue stress on the animals, farmers and an already resource-stretched police forces.

CLA Director North Dorothy Fairburn said: “As the country is in lock-down, and with milder weather, more households and individuals are using the countryside to walk their dogs or for an exercise walk. This can cause irreparable harm through thoughtless behavior, especially during lambing season and it is vital that dog owners understand their responsibilities when walking their dogs on farms or adjacent areas.

“Those using the countryside should, especially under current circumstances, be conscious that the countryside is also a place of work where the land, livestock, machinery, wildlife and environment must be respected. The Countryside Code is generally adhered to by the majority of people, but there are a few worrying trends either based on anti-social behaviour or a lack of awareness of the working countryside.”

*Lake District National Park posters

The CLA also has also welcomed the Lake District National Park’s specially created downloadable posters for farmers and landowners to use in helping manage the public making use of public rights of way. This action came in light of local farmers expressed concerns after a mass influx to the park which led to public access in close proximity to their homes and farmyards.

Two versions of the poster relates to variously ‘alternative permitted paths’ and paths that are in the vicinity of farmsteads. The wording advises the public to maintain social distancing (2-3 metres away from other people), follow the way markers, and to hand wash / sanitise after touching any shared surfaces.

CLA North Rural Advisor Jane Harrison said: “We really welcome this proactive action by the park to encourage those using the countryside to do so responsibly, and we encourage landowners and farmers in the area to download and print these posters where appropriate. Important to note is that national parks are discouraging the public from visiting their areas, and some, such as North York Moors National Park and Yorkshire Dales National Park, have closed car parks and other amenities within it.”

“Where alternative paths are indicated, landowners should not block the definitive legal path and any way-marking of alternative routes will need to be done by them. White arrows are the legal colour for a permitted route.”

The Lake District National Park posters can be downloaded from their website:

Three top tips for those using the countryside:

• Livestock worrying by dogs not adequately controlled by their owners is on the increase. Please keep your dog on a lead if you are anywhere near livestock. Even the best-trained family pet can chase sheep and wildlife if not kept under close control. Also, clear up after your dog.

• Fly-tipping is a blight on the landscape and can cost up to £800 per incident to clear away and all at the farmer’s expense. Please ensure you take your litter home with you and dispose of bulky waste through proper legal channels.

• When riding a bike or driving a vehicle, slow down or stop for horses, walkers and farm animals and give them plenty of room. By law, cyclists must give way to walkers and horse- riders on bridleways.