Leading the way on responsible dog walking in the New Forest

Hampshire County Council's New Forest countryside rangers have been working jointly with the National Park rangers to highlight the start of the ground-nesting bird season in the Forest, and how people can avoid disturbing endangered species

May 18 2017

Dog out for walk

From March to July, the New Forest is one of the most important areas in Europe for breeding Curlew, Lapwing, Snipe, Redshank, Woodlark and Dartford Warbler. These species primarily nest in the heather on hilltops or in the fringes of bogs in the valleys. By sticking to the well-defined main paths, walkers, horse-riders and cyclists can avoid causing harm to these threatened species.

DogThis year, the rangers have an addition to the team, with Ranger Dog Erin recruited to help the rangers lead by example. The working Cocker Spaniel belongs to ranger Julian, who is part of the small team looking after ten sites across the Forest from a base at Lymington Keyhaven Nature Reserve.

Engaging visitors is all part of our day to day work, and we find that when we’re talking to dog owners it really helps to have Erin with us when we are advising others about the ground nesting birds.

The New Forest is a fantastic place to walk dogs, but please follow a few simple steps to help preserve the rare bird species and conserve this fragile landscape:

  • On heathland areas, please keep dogs close to heel, or on leads if you can not rely on their obedience.
  • Grassy areas near main paths are safe places to let your dog off its lead but have a stick, toy or treat near to hand toencourage your dog to stay near, rather the running off into theundergrowth, disturbing wildlife.
  • Keep your dog on a lead when near livestock. Move away quicklyand quietly and, if possible, walk around the animals. Letgo of the lead if threatened - the livestock will follow your doginstead of you.
  • Please pick up after your dog at all times. Most car parks donot have bins, so maybe get a special bag to put the poo inwhile on your walk, before you dispose of it at home in yourhousehold waste. Dog poo carries harmful diseases that canaffect livestock as well as humans. It is acidic and canchange the pH of the soil, so abandoned dog mess candamage the fragile habitats of the New Forest.

You can find out more about the work of the rangers in the New Forest by following them on Facebook and on Twitter.