Love Moor Life: Protect wildlife and animals

Authored by Mary
Posted: Monday, February 28, 2022 - 21:58

With March marking the start of spring, dog owners are being urged to protect new-born livestock and breeding birds by keeping their dogs on leads while out walking. 

With miles of footpaths, bridleways and open access land, Dartmoor is the perfect place for people to enjoy with their canine pets. But livestock worrying is a major concern; already there has been an unusually high number of dog attacks for this time of year. 

During the breeding season (1 March – 31 July) Dartmoor is a particularly busy place. Ground nesting birds such as meadow pipits, skylarks and snipe love Dartmoor’s vegetation and blend in so well you wouldn’t know they were there. Here, they sit on their eggs and rear their chicks but can be disturbed or hurt easily by roaming dogs. 

Pregnant ewes, cows and ponies are grazing the land too. New-born lambs are particularly vulnerable to harm from dogs off leads. Dogs don’t need to chase animals for them to become scared or stressed; their presence can still cause a frightened animal to abort or abandon its young – a tragedy for the animal and a financial an an emotional loss to the farmer. 

Keeping your dog on a lead is a simple thing to do, but helps farmers keep animals safe and healthy. Signs are posted around Dartmoor to serve as useful reminders. 

Ranger Team Manager Simon Lee said: “Dartmoor has always been a place where dogs and their owners can enjoy walking from challenging hikes up tors to easy strolls along riverside valleys. 

“It’s a fantastic time to visit Dartmoor; everything is bursting into life and the weather is generally milder, but it’s also a busy time for the animals and birds which call Dartmoor home too. Wherever you want to go, it’s a really good idea to keep your dog on a short lead, especially around livestock. 

“We highly recommend people follow our Love Moor Life Ranger Code when out and about. If we all do our bit, we can keep the National Park special.”

The Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society, jointly with the Dartmoor Commoners' Council, funds the work of Livestock Protection Officer, Karla McKechnie, who is on call to deal with incidents of sheep worrying, dog attacks, casualties from road traffic accidents and livestock in distress on Dartmoor. 

Livestock worrying is a crime. According to the society's figures, there have already been 17 livestock worrying incidents this year so far. In 2021, there was a total of 108  – the highest since 2018. 

“It’s so important that people keep dogs on leads around livestock,” said Karla. “There’s no excuse for dogs not being under control and it’s not OK to leave animals suffering. If anyone sees a dog worrying animals, we’d encourage them to report it straight away.”

Call 07873 587 561 to report an incident, or phone police on 101.


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