Dorset woman given Community Resolution Order after rare Curlew eggs destroyed by dog in the New Forest
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A dog walker has been given a Community Resolution Order and issued with a dog behaviour contract after an incident in Burley in the New Forest.
It comes after an incident on Friday 27 May whereby a dog was captured by on cameras – set up to help monitor the progress of rare curlew nests in the New Forest – entering the protected Curlew nest area and destroying a number of eggs.
The dog had been seen to repeatedly attack the nest and consume the eggs of the nest on three separate occasions.
Police enquiries were carried out and the owner of the dog was identified.
A 48-year-old woman from Christchurch was given a Community Resolution Order – which is a way of police tackling some crime types or first-time offenders without needing to take the matter to court – requiring the owner to consider putting the dog forward for extensive training courses.
While she was also issued, and ordered to sign, a Dog Behaviour Contract which requires the woman to walk the dog on a lead if on Forestry England land during Nesting Bird season - March through to September.
The woman is also required to ensure that any dog owned by the individual, including the one involved in the original offences, or a family member is kept under control at all times and is only taken out in the presence of an appropriate person who has full control of the dog.
Wildlife & Rural Crime Officer, Police Constable Matthew Thelwell, said: “Curlews are ground nesting birds that are extremely rare and endangered – and sadly in this case – there was no clear attempt or intent by the owner to control their dog whilst off its lead.
“This has led to the destruction of a number of rare eggs, as well as the nesting area of the birds in the local area and constitutes an offence under the Countryside and Wildlife Act 1981.There are numerous Forestry England information boards and warning to dog walkers to keep their dogs under control in the area due to the Curlew nesting birds and other animals.
“Sadly on this occasion this advice was ignored and as a result we have taken robust action to ensure that this situation does not happen again.”
Charlotte Belcher, Community Ranger from Forestry England, said: “Ground-nesting birds have already been lost from many other parts of the UK and we are so lucky to still have them here in the New Forest. Their breeding success here will play an important role in helping to ensure their continued survival in the UK. In the most sensitive nesting areas of the Forest there are highly visible signs alerting people and asking them to support the birds by staying on the main tracks together with their dogs. We are grateful to all of those who are doing so and helping these birds to survive.”
The New Forest Dog Owners Group, which represents 1200 dog owners, supports the police action – a spokesperson for the group, said: “Dog owners have clear responsibilities, and if owners won’t accept these, they must accept the consequences. The New Forest is a balance of wildlife, environment and leisure, and we all need to work together especially at times to protect ground nesting birds. This is an extreme case, but a clear warning to owners who use the New Forest to act properly.”
A spokesperson for the New Forest Verderers, said: “It is simply not acceptable for dog owners to allow their animals to kill, injure or chase kill wildlife or livestock. The importance of dogs being under control cannot be overestimated. The Forest is a wonderful place to walk dogs and long may it remain so.
“We urge all dog walkers not only to behave responsibly themselves, but also to do whatever they can to encourage other dog walkers to do likewise, for the benefit of all. When an incident such as the destruction of this curlew nest occurs, we wholeheartedly support Hampshire Constabulary’s Officers for taking the action they have. Hopefully it will be a warning to other dog walkers that they must keep their dogs under proper control."