Keep dogs close to protect wildlife

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Dog owners are being urged to keep their pets on short leads, in order to protect wildlife in the Peak District National Park.

During the breeding season of spring and early summer, new-born lambs and ground-nesting birds - such as lapwing, curlew and snipe - are particularly vulnerable to harm from dogs roaming free or on long leads.

By law, dogs must be under control on public rights of way and on a short lead on open access land from March 1 to July 31.

National Park ranger manager Jenny Waller said: “Walking a dog is one of the joys of the countryside, but we need all dog-owners to keep their pets on short leads during this sensitive time.

“In fields containing farm animals and nesting birds, it is sensible to keep your dogs close.

“Ground-nesting birds are particularly at risk, while sheep and lambs can also be badly injured or killed by uncontrolled dogs. For its own safety, never let a dog approach or chase farm animals or wildlife – your dog can get kicked, trampled or lost, and it could be legally shot for chasing farm animals.

“It is not a legal requirement to use a lead on public paths, but you should be extra-vigilant in the breeding season, and always use a lead if you can’t rely on your dog’s obedience.

“There are also certain areas that dogs are not allowed on at all, to protect sensitive breeding sites, but these will be indicated by signs.”

To report incidents involving dogs on farmland or moors, call the police on 101. To ask for signs to go up in problem areas, contact Peak District National Park rangers on 01629 816200 or visit www.naturalengland.org.uk/countrysidecode for further advice on the Countryside Code.