Dogs being walked across Sudbury’s water meadows should be kept on a lead during the breeding season for swans, it is claimed.
The call follows an attack on a swan by a dog on the meadows near the Mill Hotel – witnessed by a visitor to Sudbury, James Bird.
He said: “The attack was witnessed by customers at the Mill Hotel, including myself, who gave pursuit but couldn’t get to the fleeing dog and owner on time. This was a public order offence committed by the owner.
“I have learned that the swan is undergoing treatment and was taken to a vets for treatment, but is in a poor state of health.”
He added: “The Sudbury Common Lands Charity is doing an awesome job preserving and maintaining the wonderful water meadows.
“Isn’t it time, however, that the water meadows became a permanent on-lead dog walking area by law?
“I’m the owner of two large dogs, but adamantly believe that, because of the ever-increasing popularity of the water meadows, the area should now be zoned if we are to preserve the fragile eco system and wildlife in the area.”
Mr Bird’s view about dogs being kept on leads was backed by Val Bareham, from Sudbury Swan Watch, who said: “I think dogs should definitely be on leads during the breeding season, which runs from May to September.
“The swans are walking across the meadows at this time. Leads would ensure dog owners have control of their animals.”
Meadows’ ranger Adrian Walters said there is already a law in place that dogs have to be kept on a lead two metres in the vicinity of livestock.
“We can’t introduce a new law,” he said. “We have it in big letters on all our signs that dogs must be kept under control at all times.”
He said that a total of 175 cattle, including cows with calves, will be grazing in various parts of the water meadows in the coming weeks.
“There is a diminishing amount of open space in the town, so the meadows are the place for dog walking,” he said. “What we require is for people to be sensible and responsible around wildlife and cattle,” he said.