Dogs and the wetland scrapes
When we planted up the wetland scrapes in Lambrok Meadow, a reader asked why we try to persuade people to keep their dogs out of the scrapes and how dogs can damage biodiversity.
Stand a while and look at our big pond. On the Village Green side, where dogs have easy access to the pond, a worn bank slides straight into muddy water; on the Kestrel Field side, where there is a fence and a hawthorn hedge to keep the dogs out, there is a boundary of withies, reeds and sedges. then two or three metres of marginal plants in shallow water before the pond deepens.
Here, on the Kestrel Field side, we have seen swimming grass snakes hunting frogs, and broad bodied chaser dragonfly males duelling for territory. Frogs and toads spawn in the shallow water; damsel fly and dragonfly nymphs climb the stems of the reeds and willows to hatch into their adult form; a grey heron comes to this side of the pond to fish for frogs and sticklebacks.
We fight a constant battle to keep dogs out of the Kestrel Field side of the big pond. We plug the holes in the hedge with blackthorn and build barriers of woven withies on the bank but dogs, sometimes aided by their owners, still get through. It’s difficult to assess the damage they do but we know that they do damage to both the pond and the wildlife that lives in it.
We would like the new pond and the backwater scrapes in Lambrok Meadow to be little wetland havens for wildlife. It all begins with the vegetation: we have planted purple loosestrife and yellow iris, sedges and bulrushes, things that grow in constantly damp ground. We hope aquatic insects will move into the mud, followed by the kind of wading birds that eat aquatic insects. If water fly breed there, swifts and martins will come and later in the day, bats will come to hunt there. But if dogs use these areas as a playground, the plants will not root, the seeds will not germinate and the ecosystem we are trying to establish will fail.
We would be reluctant to fence off the scrapes; we feel that people should not be fenced out of any part of the reserve. We, humankind, have been onlookers, watching the world’s wild life through bars and on screens, for far too long and the result has been disastrous. Now we have to learn how to be in the green places, how to walk with our dog by a stream, picnic with our children in a field, without doing harm.
Sadly people are allowing their dogs on those ponds wily nilly, I’ve just got back from a mucky walk around Southwick cp and a large black lab was cavorting in it encouraged by owner, I’m afraid with the reactions some people can give I avoided confrontation. I don’t know if there is signage I was too far away to see.
Hi, I’ve just been reading your article on dogs and the wetlands scrape. I’m a wildlife photographer and stopped using the park about 12 months ago. Basically because of the dogs and their owners attitude several times I’ve had dogs running up to me jumping up at me muddy paws all over my clothes after the owner calling them several times and the dog taking no notice when I have spoken to the dog owners they have said to me well that’s why we come over here so our dogs can go. Where are they like do what they like so to try and keep them out of the wetlands scrapes. You’ve got no chance, I now go to properly controlled nature reserves, where dogs are not allowed off the lead i am not saying that’s what you should do at Southwick but certain areas like where you’ve got. The ponds could be dogs on leads only fields. Best of luck trying to keep the dogs out of the water, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. some dog owners are very responsible for their dogs and keep them under control but I have seen people turn up in their cars open the door and the dogs are out and gone before they’ve even locked them. Your sincerely
As a person that has walked and enjoyed the park over the years and spent a lot of money in the cafe, Dogs have enjoyed a splash in the pond especially in the warmer months, this has been the case for many years, the first I knew about no dogs in the pond was last summer when a few signs went up around the pond, due to lack of water, I noticed the entrance to the streams by the bridge were closed off with cut hedges, without out a notice why, ( would be nice )
It’s a shame dogs seem to be number 1 enemy in many places now, which is a real shame, they generate a lot of money for the economy, are great companions for many people especially people living on their own, gets people outside for the dogs and their own exercise,
Which water area are the dogs allowed in? Surely this is a park where wildlife and dogs can cohabitate,
I’m all for wildlife life but it’s a shame that it is to the detriment of another animal.
There is a dog dip in the stream. I’ll put a map on the website.
It was only at the end of the summer, as the drought took hold, that we asked people to keep their dogs out of the big pond. The water was very low, very warm and filled with sediment – the things that live in the pond were having a really bad time.