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Calls to 'respect the moorland' following theft of signs on Ilkley Moor


Bradford Council appeals for dog owners to respect the moorland, despite the vandalization and theft of signs put up encouraging people to be responsible.

Bradford Council is appealing to dog owners to play their part in protecting wildlife during ground nesting season, and livestock such as sheep during lambing season, by being responsible and keeping their pets on a lead.

The law says on Open Access Land and at the coast, dogs must be kept on a lead around livestock, and also between 1 March and 31 July dogs must be on a lead that is no more that 2m long on Open Access land, even if there is no livestock on the land.

There is also a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which requires dogs to be put on a lead and a fixed penalty fine can be issued on refusal – this covers open spaces in the Bradford district including Ilkley and Burley Moor.

The PSPO is in place to protect birds during the UK ground-nesting season, which is March to July. The presence of dogs roaming not on a lead is enough to scare the birds away and prevent them from nesting. It can also cause them stress which mean they waste vital energy by frequently flying out of the way, failing to lay eggs or even abandoning their chicks.

The PSPO is also in place to protect livestock, such as sheep during lambing season, this can run up to as late as June. The distress and exhaustion from being chased can cause pregnant animals to miscarry or die and young lambs can also become separated from their mothers which can lead to them becoming orphaned. A farmer can shoot a dog that is attacking or chasing livestock.

The moorland across the Bradford district is heavily protected (and designated at international level) for, amongst other things, its populations of moorland ground nesting birds which includes curlew, lapwing, golden plover, merlin, short-eared owl and red grouse.

Officers from Bradford Council’s Countryside Team put up signs asking people to respect the environment and keep their dogs on a lead, so as not to disturb these precious species especially during this sensitive breeding time.

This year, extra signs have been put up, with the support of the Friends of Ilkley Moor, at the more sensitive nesting areas on the top of the moor. Unfortunately, less than two weeks after the signs have been put up, most of them have been ripped from their posts and stolen.

Danny Jackson from Bradford Council’s Countryside and Rights of Way team said: “Dogs are naturally inquisitive, but this can lead to real problems, especially from now until the end of summer, when many species are breeding. It’s not only the impact on ground-nesting birds, but dogs roaming free can disturb other wildlife including amphibians and mammals, as well as grazing livestock.

“The stolen signs will be replaced, but this adds to the cost of protecting the moorland areas and their wildlife. It will also take up valuable officer and volunteer time. We are asking users of the moors to respect the moorland environment and keep their dogs on a lead. If you witness these signs being tampered with and can tie the perpetrator back to a registration number of a car for example, please report this to us so that we can follow it up.”

For information on the Countryside Code and the law around dog walking in the countryside visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-countryside-code/the-countryside-code-advice-for-countryside-visitors

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