During the third lockdown huge pressure is being placed on nature reserves and other open spaces.

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust reports that livestock and wildlife are being disturbed and chased by dogs on a daily basis.

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust is calling on members of the public to help address the rising tide of attacks by dogs on both wildlife and livestock on its reserves. As people turn to nature for solace in the midst of a grim winter lockdown, some careless dog owners are allowing their pets to run riot in sensitive natural areas.

The Trust reports that on just one recent occasion, seven dogs were found to be running amongst pregnant ewes at the Coombe Bissett Down nature reserve. At the Trust’s Devenish reserve, the sheep are regularly found spooked and distressed after contact from unmanaged dogs.

Visitors to nature reserve sites are asked to always observe the clearly visible signs, telling them that dogs must be kept on leads and kept out of certain sensitive areas entirely. The Trust has had wildlife and livestock killed and injured by dogs previously, and the stress to them alone can cause considerable harm.

Yesterday, Butterfly Conservation received the terrible news that 13 sheep had been killed at one of their sites, a tragedy that no conservation group wishes for its staff and volunteers to have to discover. Sadly, the Trust may have to close sites to protect livestock if the problem persists.

The Trust is urging all dog owners who visit one of their sites to please keep all dogs on the lead, to help protect the health and happiness of the wildlife and animals who live there.