Helping to protect nesting birds through responsible dog walking is the latest message from Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust as it launches its ‘Take the Lead’ campaign.
The Trust manages 16 nature reserves across Sheffield and Rotherham, such as Blacka Moor, Greno Woods and Wyming Brook, and is also part of the Sheffield Moors Partnership which is also celebrating responsible dog walking in the countryside.
From the start of March to the end of July, the Trust is asking the public to please keep dogs on leads while walking on its nature reserves to protect the iconic moorland bird species, such as curlew, skylark, lapwing and stonechat, which breed on these sites.
They say ground nests are well camouflaged and may be little more than a scrape, making it easy to forget they are present in the landscape. Eggs and chicks on the ground are already at risk from predation by foxes, carrion and badgers. The added stress of a dog running across the landscape can seriously disrupt breeding for these birds.
They stress reducing disturbance as much as possible gives them the best chance of breeding success.
They stress that Keeping your dog on a lead also helps protect grazing livestock on the Trust’s nature reserves. It is particularly important that sheep are not threatened by dogs during lambing season.
Living Landscapes manager (South) at Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust,Nabil Abbas, said: “With arrival of spring, birds are starting to settle on territories and breeding across the countryside. The public may not realise that a number of declining species nest on the ground, such as skylark in grasslands, curlew on the moors and wood warbler in woodland areas.” In addition they say sheep are vulnerable at this time of year, and if a ewe feels threatened by a dog she may throw her lamb early, essentially causing miscarriage. Stay as far away from livestock as possible while walking at this time of year to avoid disturbing them.