A Dog Control Public Awareness Initiative is asking walkers to leave their dogs at home when accessing private land in the Wicklow Hills.
A series of signs are being installed across the county on privately owned land where livestock are present and recreational use is high.
The Awareness campaign has the full support of Wicklow Uplands Council, Wicklow IFA and the Wicklow Cheviot Sheep Owners Association.
Tuesday's launch at Glenmacnass Waterfall was attended by a number of Wicklow farmers who will be installing signs on their own property. Increased recreational use of the hills has impacted on sheep farming in particular. Wicklow has been at the forefront of opening up private land for recreational use since the establishment of the Wicklow Way in 1980 but the growing presence of uncontrolled dogs has the potential to threaten existing access agreements. Wicklow Uplands Council has been working with the stakeholders to address this escalating problem. It aims to raise awareness, encourage reporting of incidents to Wicklow County Council and to work towards practical solutions.
Among the areas most affected are Glenmalure, Glendalough, Glenmacnass and Lugnaquilla.
Project co-ordinator, Cara Doyle, says uncontrolled dogs are a serious threat to the livelihood of upland farmers.
'Dogs loose on the hills cause anxiety within a flock of sheep often causing them to be displaced and get stuck in rough ground and vegetation. One of the impacts that is often unseen by recreational users is the early abortion of lambs and in the worst incidences; dogs directly attack sheep causing them severe injury or death.
'This is not just a problem for the landowner in terms of their livelihood but it is also a serious animal welfare issue. The problem is not limited to walker's dogs with damage often being caused by local dogs which stray from neighbouring properties and their owners are unaware of their whereabouts.'