Keep dogs on leads to protect wildlife

Rangers at a conservation site near Stourbridge are urging dog owners to keep their pet on a short lead in areas of heathland during breeding season (1 March – 31 July).

Home to ground nesting birds and other rare wildlife, the heathland at Kinver Edge is cared for by the National Trust. Dog owners are being asked to keep their pet on a lead this spring and summer to minimise disturbance to the animals that live and breed in this sensitive habitat.

 

The Willow Warbler, a ground nesting bird that arrives at Kinver Edge in spring, flies more than 8,000 kilometres (5,00 miles) from Africa to the UK. In the autumn, these small birds make the return journey.

Along with many other migratory birds, the Willow Warbler makes this epic journey to find food and to breed. The UK’s warm, wet summers and long days provide parents with more insects and time to feed their growing chicks.

Birds that make their nests, lay eggs and raise their chicks on the ground, including the Willow Warbler, Tree Pipit and Chiffchaff, are easily disturbed and distressed by dogs roaming off the footpaths.

Ewan Chapman, Lead Ranger said: “March to July is breeding season for many species, so it’s really important to keep your dog on a lead at this time.

 

Ground nesting birds might be prevented from settling if they’re disturbed by a dog, or if they’re already nesting they will fly away from their nests, neglecting their eggs or chicks.

Cattle graze the heathland on Kinver Edge during the summer months. To keep you and your pet safe and to protect the livestock and wildlife that live here, look out for signs asking you to put your dog on a lead as you enter areas of sensitive habitat.

I want to say a big thank you to all of the responsible dog walkers who are helping us look after this rare habitat and the special wildlife that live here. Away from the heathland, there are plenty of areas on Kinver Edge where dogs are welcome to explore off lead. The top of the Edge, the woodland and Hillfort are all good areas for dogs to roam and run free.”

Dog owners who fail to control their dog around livestock and in areas of sensitive habitats could face a fine or even prosecution. Please remember to clear up after your dog and keep it under control around other people.

CAPTION: A Willow Warbler. Pic Courtesy of National Trust Images, Nick Upton.

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