Dogs must be controlled on meadows, says ranger

Philip Richardson, chairman of the Sudbury Common Lands Charity, with Sudbury Mayor Robert Spivey who inspected the grass before the cattle were turned onto the pastures. ANL-150705-172126001

Philip Richardson, chairman of the Sudbury Common Lands Charity, with Sudbury Mayor Robert Spivey who inspected the grass before the cattle were turned onto the pastures. ANL-150705-172126001

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The Sudbury Common Lands Charity has published a leaflet encouraging dog owners using the meadows to keep their pets under control.

The initiative is in response to a rise in the number of dog walkers on the lands and a subsequent increase in reports of attacks on wildfowl.

Leaflets will be placed in dispensers at entrances to the meadows, which are designated as a local nature reserve and a county wildlife site.

The leaflet is the first of its kind to be issued by the charity and offers advice on how dog owners should act around cattle and wild birds and their legal obligation to have their dogs under control.

Ranger Adrian Walters, who is also clerk to the trustees, said: “The vast majority of dog owners treat this is a special place and keep their pets under control.

“But we have seen a dramatic rise in the number of dogs on the site in recent years – this has put pressure on other users of the lands and animals that call this place home.

“In recent years, there has been a significant increase in reports of dogs attacking swans and worrying cattle.

“Dogs do have instincts and, unless they are under control, they will chase other animals.”

Mr Walters said having the cattle graze on the meadows was “absolutely key” to maintaining the delicate ecosystem.

“If cattle are stressed or harmed by dogs, farmers will be reluctant to place cattle here and that is something we are determined to prevent,” he said.

The leaflet was launched at this year’s turning on ceremony – an event held every year to celebrate the arrival of cattle on the meadows for the grazing season.

As part of the ancient ceremony, the mayor of Sudbury is invited to inspect the grass at Freemen’s Great Common.