The North York MoorsA national park authority is taking the lead in protecting birds.

The North York Moors national park is asking dog owners to keep their dogs on a leash during the nesting season. Dogs running free can disturb parent birds and lead to the chicks dying.

The North York Moors 

Dogs should be kept on a lead of no more than two metres, said a spokesman for the park. Merlin and golden plover are among threatened species nesting on the moors. The period between 1 March and the end of July is crucial for the hatching of eggs and the rearing of chicks.

Rachel Pickering, moorland and estate officer for the North York Moors National Park Authority, said: “Even well-behaved friendly dogs may scare birds away from their nests during the nesting season.

 “This means that the eggs or chicks could become cold and may die or could become vulnerable to attack by predators.”
Access officer Sarah Blakemore added: “In moorland areas, it’s important to keep dogs on a short lead between March and July when rare birds are nesting on the ground.

“People don’t always realise that letting their dog roam off lead can cause the chicks of moorland birds to die. We hope that all dog owners will help to keep the North York Moors a special place for wildlife by keeping their dogs on short leads when walking on the moors.”

Although the Countryside and Rights of Way Act granted right-to-roam rights across much of the North York Moors, restrictions on dogs remain in many areas. Dog walkers can still legally use all existing rights of way.

The authority is producing a leaflet on responsible access with dogs. It will be published later this year.