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Out of control dogs kill three cygnets on Norfolk nature reserve

PUBLISHED: 12:39 17 June 2020 | UPDATED: 15:28 23 June 2020

Three mute swan cygnets, like these ones at Strumpshaw Fen, were killed by dogs at Thorpe Marshes. Pic: Patrick Hannant.

Three mute swan cygnets, like these ones at Strumpshaw Fen, were killed by dogs at Thorpe Marshes. Pic: Patrick Hannant.

Copyright:Patrick Hannant

A plea has been made for dog owners to keep pets on leads in nature reserves, after a family of cygnets were killed by animals which were not under control.

Three cygnets have been killed by dogs which were not on leads at Thorpe Marshes. Picture: Tara DaviesThree cygnets have been killed by dogs which were not on leads at Thorpe Marshes. Picture: Tara Davies

Three mute swan cygnets have been killed by dogs on the Thorpe Marshes nature reserve in the past week, say officers at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, which manages the 60-acre site.

There are signs at the reserve, off Yarmouth Road in Thorpe St Andrew, urging dog owners to keep their pets on leads, but some have ignored them - which led to the dogs killing the cygnets.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust officers are urging people to abide by the message and keep dogs on leads.

Kevin Hart, director of nature conservation at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, said: “A lot of our nature reserves have been important spaces where people have been going during lockdown.

Kevin Hart, director of conservation at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Picture: Chris HillKevin Hart, director of conservation at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust. Picture: Chris Hill

“But a lot of people have been accessing them who have not been to them before. They might not have realised that this is a time when there are lots of nesting birds on nature reserves.

“At Thorpe Marshes, we’ve had three cygnets which have been killed by dogs.

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“One of them was witnessed by somebody who is a regular visitor to the marshes and it was very upsetting for them to see.

“The mute swan had moved her nest to a dyke near a footpath, but that does not excuse the owners of these dogs. They should be kept on leads.

“We understand that people like to walk dogs, but running them off a lead in a nature reserve is not a good idea. We are appealing to people to be sensible and responsible.”

Mr Hart said a lack of people at some reserves up to now meant wildlife was nesting in areas where it would not normally do so.

He said: “That’s not the case at Thorpe Marshes, which has been busier than normal, but at some of our reserves, we’ve got curlew and yellowhammer nesting right on pathways which people would normally be using.”

Mr Hart said the trust had kept its reserve at Holme Dunes closed because of nesting birds, while the car park at Roydon Common is shut.

Mr Hart said: “It’s difficult, because it’s good that people are exploring our reserves.

“But we just want them to be aware that this is a tricky time when birds are nesting and ask them to keep their dogs under control on leads.”


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