National park rangers have issued another reminder to keep dogs under control as we enter the bird breeding season.
Out-of-control dogs can cause harm to wildlife and chicks may die if parent birds are scared away from nests by pets. Authorities in the Peak District National Park have joined up with police and the Kennel Club to remind dog walkers of their obligations.
Take the lead: keep dogs under control
Short leads of two metres or less are essential to protect farm animals and wildlife as spring approaches. Owners have a duty to keep their pets under control at all times when on the moors and farm land.
Senior ranger Jenny Waller said: “We are delighted to see people walking their dogs in the countryside, but we ask them to keep their pets on short, two-metre leads during this particularly sensitive time from 1 March 1 to 31 July.
“Sheep and lambs can be badly injured by uncontrolled dogs during the lambing season. Ground-nesting birds like curlew and lapwing, and wild creatures such as hares, are also easily disturbed. Eggs and young soon die without the protection of their parents.
“Legally, you do not have to use a lead on public paths as long as the dog is under close control, but we ask dog owners to be extra vigilant in the breeding season, and always clip on the lead if you cannot rely on your dog’s obedience.
“For its own safety, never let your dog approach or chase wildlife and farm animals – your dog can get kicked, trampled or lost, and it could be shot for chasing livestock.”
She also warned that cattle can be unpredictable when they have calves to protect and there have been instances of dog walkers being injured when trying to protect their pets. If your dog is being chased by cattle, she says, let it off the lead and get yourself out of the field to safety, then call the dog when you are out of danger.
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act, which granted the right to roam, allows landowners and managers to have dogs banned from access land. Details of areas affected by this and other information on open access are available at the official Countryside Access website.
Members of the public can report worrying or suspicious behaviour involving dogs to police in the Peak District on 0845 123 33 33 or park rangers on 01433 670216 at the weekend or 01629 816290 through the week.