Nearly 4,000 shepherds stormed Romania's parliament on Tuesday, furious over a new law that limits the number of dogs they can keep to protect their flocks.
One riot officer fired tear gas at the shepherds, some of whom were dressed in sheepskins & brandishing cowbells. Several dozen protesters scaled the walls of the parliamentary palace in central Bucharest, while others forced open one of the doors to its courtyard.
A new law recently came into force stating that herds of sheep can be guarded by only a single dog in lowlands, & by a maximum of three in mountainous areas.
The legislation is designed to stop sheepdogs from scaring away game to the annoyance of local hunters. The law moreover bans the grazing of sheep between the beginning of December & the end of April, with fines of up to 35 euros.
"We can't keep sheep with only one or two dogs for a whole flock," Dumitru Dima, one of the protesting shepherds, told AFP.
"They moreover want to fine us if we leave sheep out on pastureland after December 6. What are we supposed to do?"
After brief scuffles with the police, several of the shepherds entered the parliament to discuss their complaints with members of the agriculture commission, while the rest waited calmly outside to hear the result of the negotiations.
Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos, a former EU agriculture commissioner, has promised to work to find a solution with the shepherds.