Conservators at the Ashdown Forest are considering introducing dog wardens to monitor the behaviour of dogs, as part of a new Code of Conduct to be discussed next month.
In the latest incident a newborn lamb was mauled to death by a black long-haired, German Shepherd type dog on land near Nutley. Several other lambs were also attacked requiring veterinary treatment and have since been rejected by their mothers. The matter is now being investigated by Sussex Police.
Originally a deer hunting forest in Norman times, Ashdown Forest is now one of the largest open access spaces in the south east and is a great place for walkers and horseriders. It is thought that more than 60% of the visitors to the Forest are dog walkers.
The Forest is at the heart of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has national and international protection because of its wildlife. Nearly two thirds of the area is rare heathland. The Forest is home to the Dartford Warbler and Nightjar, and conservationists are concerned about the threat to these bird species from roaming dogs during the breeding season.
The rare heathland is also nutrient poor, and dog waste left on the Forest leads to the enrichment of the soil thereby changing the habitat. The Conservators say they don’t provide dog bins on the Forest because with over 40 car parks the cost would be excessive. They instead request owners take the used dog poo bags away with them.
— AshdownForest Centre (@Ashdown_Forest) May 15, 2014
At a meeting on 3rd June, the Conservators of the Ashdown Forest will be consulting about a new Code of Conduct to address these issues.
It is understood one idea being considered, is to have volunteer dog walkers, as it is thought dog walkers are more likely to listen to other dog owners and respect the new Code of Conduct.
There is a permit system for horseriders wanting to use the Forest, but it is understood a similar licensing scheme is not being considered, as it is felt it would be impossible to administer.
Every Dog Matters is being held on Tuesday 3rd June, at 10.30-12.30, at the Ashdown Forest Centre. People wanting to attend are asked to contact Tracey to book a place: 01342 823583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What would you suggest to encourage owners to be more responsible when walking their dogs on the forest?