Does the river Wensum need tighter rules to protect wildlife?

Does the city's Wensum River need stricter rules to protect the wildlife? 

There are calls for people to slow down on the river to stop animals getting hurt - Credit: Danielle Booden/Kevin Murphy

With summer temperatures breaking all records the Wensum has become a popular spot for paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming and day boating.  

But what does this rise in traffic on the water mean for the wildlife who call the beautiful river home? 

Kevin Murphy from city centre-based Norfolk Wildlife Rescue believes action is need as the river becomes more crowded.

He said: “The speed limits in the area are rarely adhered to which causes so many issues for the wildlife.  

“The riverbank is also being eroded as day boats speed through washing it away.” 

Kevin Murphy is the founder and director of Norfolk Wildlife Rescue

Kevin Murphy is the founder and director of Norfolk Wildlife Rescue and he hopes to help to track Alfie down and return him home safely. - Credit: Kevin Murphy

Kevin has seen a decrease in the wildlife on the waters and says while there remains lots of animals they are not as obvious as they once were.  

He is urging people to slow down to protect the creatures. Earlier this month he had to rescue an otter which had been hit by a boat.  

Most Read

He was called to Chedgrave after reports the otter was hurt. When he got to the scene he found the animal had severe wounds to its head. 

He said: “The wounds were likely caused by a propeller blade but could have also been a knife - it is hard to tell.  

The injured otter was found in Chedgrave near Loddon on the riverbank. 

The injured otter was found in Chedgrave near Loddon on the riverbank. - Credit: Kevin Murphy

“I suspect she was a mother so I am currently in Chedgrave seeking pups so they do not meet the same fate.”  

Lucy Burchnall, head of ranger services at the Broads Authority said: “There is a delicate balance to be struck between encouraging people to enjoy the inland waters of the Broads National Park whilst protecting habitats and the special wildlife that can be found here.  

Unfortunately the otters wounds were too severe, but Kevin is hopeful he may find some pups. 

Unfortunately the otters wounds were too severe, but Kevin is hopeful he may find some pups. - Credit: Kevin Murphy

“There are speed limits on most navigable areas of the Broads to help keep other boaters and wildlife safe and these are clearly signposted.” 

The speed limit for the city section of the Wensum is 4mph and raised to 5mph near Whitlingham.  

Lucy added: “Where we have sufficient evidence of excessive or dangerous speed, prosecutions can, and will be made and these can attract substantial fines.  

Lucy Burchnall from the Broads Authority

Lucy Burchnall from the Broads Authority - Credit: Broads Authority © 2011

Anyone who spots a speeding boat should note details such as the boat name or registration and report it to Broads Control on 01603 756056.