OWNERSHIP OF CANINE COMPANIONS COMES WITH RESPONSIBILITY. ALL DOG OWNERS SHOULD RECOGNISE THIS AND SHOULD ENSURE THAT THEIR DOGS ARE TRAINED.
Due to Covid-19 many more people have been seen on Bepton Down. The fact that more people are enjoying time outside is to be welcomed but people need to be mindful of the varying responsibilities that come with being in the countryside.
The SSSI would like to make a PLEA to dog owners (most of whom are local) to keep their animals under control at all times.
I would like to remind dog owners that there is a Code of Conduct governing Access Land.
There are certain activities you can’t do on open access land, including:
taking animals other than dogs on to the land
driving a vehicle
DOGS ON OPEN ACCESS LAND
You must keep your dog on a lead no more than 2 metres long on open access land:
between 1 March and 31 July – to protect ground-nesting birds.
dogs should also be kept on leads at all times around livestock. This is also compulsory when not on Access Land.
As it is a SSSI bursting with flora and related fauna at this time of year I would respectfully ask visitors to be mindful of the delicate nature of the rare orchids and other wildflowers in bloom at certain times of year. Watch where you put your feet! Crushing these delicate flowers reduces their ability to set seed and produce the next generation of orchids for 2021 and beyond.
At this point it is appropriate to remind dog owners that they should, keep their dogs under control at other times of year to protect game birds as gamekeepers are liable to be less than happy should they find a dog running riot.
Spring and Summer (February to September) are also the times of year when HARES have LEVERETS in open forms. The female (doe) disperses her litter (and she has several in a season) leaving them alone for many hours before returning to feed them…. FAWNS – Fallow (or kids if Roe) are also left for hours by the does. Please do not disturb them and do not allow your dogs to molest them. I have heard of one dog taking himself off for hours on end and returning with blood on his muzzle….
There is also the added problem of sheep of which there are any number round here. I have, in the past, witnessed sheep worrying taking place in Bepton and the resulting distress caused to the owner of the pet Jacob Sheep and the horror of having to identify the dogs in question with the police. The dogs were put down.
The other problem faced by livestock farmers is the threat posed by dog faeces. This issue was raised fairly recently in the area.
There is growing evidence of the links between two specific diseases in livestock and the presence on grazing land of faeces from infected dogs. The two diseases are:
Neosporosis – which can cause abortions in cattle
Sarcocystosis – which can cause neurological disease and death in sheep
The presence of sarcocysts, parasites, on a carcass following slaughter can result in the carcass being condemned. The disease can be passed on from ewe to lamb during pregnancy.
In both these diseases, faeces from infected dogs can contaminate pasture and animal feed, water or bedding.
There is currently no licensed vaccine or drugs available for these diseases.