A few unleashed dogs …
Friday 29th April 2011: … and their owners are still roaming the north marsh, totally ignoring the ‘Private’ signs. On the southern end of the marsh, the ‘Private’ signs have been pulled down and destroyed – by a disgruntled person, or persons, I suppose.
I have seen a number of pregnant muntjacs on the north marsh, and I know of at least one owner who actively encourages his large German Pointer to chase the marsh animals and he is not shy about telling people this, either: ‘This is what these dogs are bred for,’ he reasons. Whilst I don’t have a problem with using dogs to hunt – as long as it is carried out responsibly and in an approved and controlled environment, I do have a problem with large dogs rampaging through the North Pond and the swamp during the breeding season – this is a nature reserve, after all. Such activity is likely to drive animals away from an area that is supposed to be a sanctuary.
The problem is that dogs are seen as predators by the marsh animals. Dog owners have used the fact that foxes are predators in an effort to justify running their dogs free on the reserve. Foxes are indeed wild animals, this can not be denied, and they are, by their very nature, effective predators, but foxes are also stealthy, hungry, animals that need to hunt and kill to survive, and they are part of the natural fabric of the marsh. Domesticated dogs, on the other hand, tend to run around all over the place like mad things, making a lots of noise, chasing anything that moves, and generally disrupting the daily lives of the reserve animals.
‘I’ve been walking this marsh for ‘X’ number of years and no one is going to stop me now,” is another statement sometimes used as a justification for roaming the reserve. The fact is that the marsh is privately owned. However, permission can be obtained from the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, who are marsh owners and managers, to access the marsh, subject to various rules and regulations being adhered to. The rules and regulations are necessary in order to protect the existing fauna and flora, and also to encourage new wildlife to live and breed on Wilden Marsh Reserve.