LANDOWNERS in Dorset are imploring people to behave responsibly in the countryside this bank holiday weekend.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which expects that thousands of people will head out to enjoy the forecasted good weather over the bank holiday, is asking people to be considerate if they head outdoors and not commit any ‘countryside crimes’.

CLA South West points out a few problems that affect the countryside including littering, fly tipping, people straying from designated rights of way and mismanaged dogs.

Visitors and residents are asked to keep to the footpaths and bridleways, leave gates as they were found, pay attention to instructions on any signs, keep their dogs properly under control and not leave litter in the countryside.

The organisation acknowledges that the vast majority of people do not cause any problems, but asserts that there have been some issues.

Ann Maidment, Director CLA South West, said: “Livestock worrying by dogs that are not adequately controlled by their owners has been on the increase.

“There are regular reports of sheep worrying and physical harm to animals which have been mauled or scared to death by out of control dogs. There is also a rise in the number of field gates left open and livestock escaping from their fields.

“We would also urge the public to take their rubbish home with them, fly-tipping is a crime, no matter how big or small and the public must be mindful not to blight our countryside with their picnic leftovers. The ground is extremely dry so remember, if you’re going to have a BBQ be sure to put it out properly and dispose of safely to reduce the risk of fire. In the words of the Countryside Code ‘Respect, Protect, Enjoy.’”

The CLA says that getting outdoors and enjoying nature and fresh air can have health benefits, but the organisation adds that people should be considerate while they do so.

CLA South West represents landowners and farmers throughout the region, offering advice about how to protect their land. It has about 5,000 members in the south west.