Yesterday morning, two dogs described as brown greyhound types caught and killed a tabby and white cat in the ditch that runs along between Lambrok Meadow and the blackthorn tunnel. If your dog is a hunter with a highly developed prey drive, please, please don’t let it run off-lead in our nature reserve, to hunt and kill our wildlife and the neighbourhood’s cats.
We have recently received reports of squirrels killed by a dog and of dogs hunting our water voles, a protected species, in the Lambrok’s tributary stream. Letting your dog even disturb, never mind kill, a water vole is an offence that can be punished with a £5,000 fine.
Water vole photographed in the park by Simon Knight. The wooden bridge over the tributary stream.
Header image: the blackthorn tunnel.
There are rare water shrews in the Lambrok’s tributary as well as common and pygmy shrews in the set-asides, all of them fully protected under the 1981 Wildlife & Countryside Act. There are two well established rabbit warrens, one at either end of Sleepers Field, their occupants trying to live peaceful lives under the brambles despite the many feet, human and canine, walking by. The reserve is home to squirrels, mice and voles of several species, hedgehogs and brown rats.
We have predators to balance things out: weasels and stoats as well as sparrowhawks, kestrels and buzzards; otters and foxes pass through and a grey heron visits regularly to hunt field voles in Village Green. Your dogs have no place in this ecosystem; they are merely visitors and like all visitors to the wild places they should leave nothing behind and take nothing with them. Please, pick up after your dogs and if you think they might hurt or kill the wildlife, leash them.
Grey heron photographed in the reserve by Cheryl Cronnie; fox (public domain).
Yes, Trowbridge has long promised us more open green space where dogs can be safely exercised off lead. But nothing has come of these promises so Southwick’s dog walkers and its nature reserve must come to an accommodation and rub along together without the need to publish a regular casualty list.
A park user kindly took the cat’s body to a local vet to be scanned for a microchip but if you think this might be your cat, we do have a photograph. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.