Have your say on dog restrictions at “real gem” nature reserve

An out of control dog chasing cattle at Carlton Marshes.

An out of control dog chasing cattle at Carlton Marshes. - Credit: Archant

Views are being sought on plans to increase and strengthen restrictions on dogs at a popular nature reserve.

North Cove nature reserve celebrating its 40th anniversary.Reserve warden Matt Gooch from the Suffol

North Cove nature reserve celebrating its 40th anniversary.Reserve warden Matt Gooch from the Suffolk Wildlife Trust.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) has asked Waveney District Council to introduce two new public space protection orders (PSPOs) at Carlton Marshes following a number of incidents involving dogs.

One PSPO would require dogs to be kept on a lead throughout the reserve in Carlton Colville, while a second would ban dogs entirely from sensitive wildlife areas, including Sprats Water and Whitecast Marshes, which make up about 60% of the present bird breeding territories.

Anyone caught ignoring a PSPO could face a fine or fixed penalty notice.

Matt Gooch, reserve manager, said SWT already had a policy requiring dogs to be kept on leads at all of its reserves but the new PSPO would reinforce that by making it a legal requirement.

'Dog walking at the reserve has always had to be on leads, but now, in order to preserve the site's wildlife, in certain areas, SWT need to insist upon it,' he said.

'Repeatedly, disturbance by wandering dogs means that many areas across the nature reserve are not being used by wildlife to breed. It is not only wildlife that is suffering.

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'In the last three years, several loose dogs have chased cattle on the marshes, with the police being involved.

'Dogs have also run into school groups. While all were friendly dogs, unfortunately some children and adults are scared of dogs and do not like nature reserves where such incidents occur.'

Mr Gooch said the introduction of the PSPOs would not mean that a £60 fine would be issued every time a dog was seen off the lead.

'We want to talk to people about the site's importance to ensure all respect the site and its national importance,' he said. 'Carlton Marshes is not just a piece of countryside, it is a real gem and on the doorstep for so many Lowestoft residents to enjoy.

'All we are asking is dogs be under very close control and sticking to the footpath. If people feel unsure about their dog's behaviour, we still want them to enjoy the reserve, but with their dog on a lead.'

Waveney is currently holding a public consultation over a number of PSPOs, including an extension to the dog restrictions at Southwold beach.

The proposed PSPOs are available to view at www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/community/anti-social-behaviour.

The consultation closes on September 30.

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