On Thursday 31 October a Galloway steer was brutally attacked by a dog on the Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) Tadnoll Heath nature reserve, near Winfrith. The injuries to its face were so severe that it was put to sleep the following day (graphic image of this is below).
The attack was reported to the police after a member of the public rang one of DWT’s Tadnoll graziers directly, to let them know about the incident.
DWT has recently upgraded signage on selected nature reserves in Dorset, pleading with the public to keep their dogs on leads to avoid harming wildlife and other animals that live there, such as cattle.
The organization says dogs are welcome on most Dorset Wildlife Trust nature reserves, but many of these sites are managed and designed specifically for the wildlife they support, such as birds, which can be highly sensitive to disturbance. Some of the sites are grazed with sheep, cattle or horses, which is essential to maintain habitats like grassland and heathland on which wildlife depends.
DWT’s nature reserve manager for the South and East, Leo Henley-Lock said: ‘This attack is particularly upsetting as we have recently installed new signage on Tadnoll nature reserve which makes it clear to visitors that your dog should be on a lead.
‘We recognise that using outside space is enjoyable and can improve people’s health, but the purpose of these sites is for wildlife to thrive on them, and as a conservation charity, that has to be our first priority. With proper care and attention, there’s no reason why wildlife and people can’t both benefit from our nature reserves in Dorset, but we require all visitors to abide by the guidance provided.
‘We recognise that many people are following the code and are responsible dog owners, and we hope they can lead by example, so this doesn’t happen again.’
DWT has 44 nature reserves across Dorset. Dogs are not permitted on: Broad Oak Orchard, Brownsea Island, Bugdens Meadow, Girdlers Coppice & King’s Lane Orchard. Reserves with variable zoned dog access are: Happy Bottom, Lorton Meadows, Upton Heath & West Bexington.
On all other DWT nature reserves, the DWT asks people to keep dogs on a short lead at all times.
For more information about dogs on nature reserves, visit www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/Dogs and to find out more about our nature reserves in Dorset, visit www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/nature-reserves .
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