Rangers issue warning to dog walkers on Marsden Moor

National Trust rangers say this is a crucial time for ground nesting birds and livestock on Marsden Moor.

Rangers are warning dog owners to keep their dogs are kept on a short lead this spring on Marsden Moor, to protect wildlife and livestock.

The warning comes after a number of moorland fires over the last few years damaged important bird habitat, making this spring a particularly crucial time for wildlife.

From 1st March until 31st July, dogs must be kept on a short lead (up to 2m) to avoid disturbing the rare birds like lapwing, curlew and golden plover. These breeds build their nests deep in the grasses on Marsden Moor, meaning they’re often hidden from sight, but dogs can sometimes smell them. Even dogs that don’t chase birds can still cause them distress, inadvertently disturbing nests and causing the animals to abandon their eggs.

Image Credit: Victoria Holland National Trust

It’s also a crucial time for farmers, as sheep and cows go back on the moors with their young. Pregnant ewes are also particularly vulnerable; if they’re disturbed, they may miscarry their lambs.

Rosie Holdsworth, Countryside Manager for the National Trust in West Yorkshire, said, “Marsden Moor is a great place to bring your dog for a walk, with miles of footpaths to explore. However, it’s really important to keep dogs on a short lead and stick to the paths, to give your rare breeding birds the best chance.”

“Birds may abandon their nests if a dog comes close, even if that dog doesn’t harm or chase the bird.”

She added, “Farmers that graze their livestock on the moors also appreciate dogs being on leads. Many sheep are pregnant or have young lambs. It’s really distressing for the animals when they’re chased by dogs. Dogs can frighten sheep and cause miscarriages.”

“Over the past decades, we’ve worked really hard to give nature the best chance on the moors by restoring plant biodiversity. Dog owners can really play their part and help us with our efforts to look after our wildlife.”

For more details about our work, visit: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/marsden-moor-estate.

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