QUAD-BIKING police have been deployed in a bid to reduce the toll of lambs slaughtered by out-of-control dogs.
The specially-trained officers – mounted on £6,000 Honda quads – are patrolling farmland in the Pentland Hills Regional Park just south of Edinburgh.
Dogs off the lead are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of sheep and lambs across Scotland annually.
This week a “Dalmation-type dog” attacked sheep in Bathgate, West Lothian, killing nine lambs and injuring six more.
Police have been put on quad bikes in the Pentlands so they patrol remote areas where both walkers and sheep are found and which are often inaccessible by road.
Officers will try to prevent attacks by spotting dogs off the lead near sheep and ordering owners to get their pet under control.
Officers who come across a dog actually worrying or attacking sheep will intervene before calling for extra help from the SSPCA.
The charity will take control of the dog if an owner is not present and also administer any help to injured animals if necessary.
Farmers in the area who care for around 5,000 sheep have previously been hit with lamb fatalities in the spring following dog attacks or anti-social behaviour.
Police, working alongside the Pentland Ranger Service, hope the scheme will also reduce conflict with pet owners as farmers are allowed to shoot dogs who attack animals.
Police Scotland have sent the special officers involved on a three-day course in order to use the quad bikes – they then have to go on annual refresher courses.
A Police Scotland spokesman for J Division – the former Lothian and Borders force – said: “Our officers carry out the patrols on quad bikes and undergo specialist training in order to fulfil their roles.
“Previous engagement with the local farmers on the Pentland Hills highlighted sheep attacks as a real concern.”