Wildlife lovers say a popular nature reserve is becoming a no-go area because of dog fouling.
Foxhill Bank, in Oswaldtwistle, has such a serious problem with irresponsible dog owners that volunteers are shunning working there due to health concerns.
Kim Coverdale, The Wildlife Trust’s East Lancashire reserves officer, said it is ‘a serious problem’. She said: “It is discouraging people from visiting this lovely urban nature reserve, which should be enjoyed by everyone who lives in the area. It is also worrying for our volunteers and officers who have real health concerns when they are working in areas where there is a lot of dog faeces on the ground.”
The Trust and Hyndburn council have devised a plan to tackle the problem. This will mean rewards and advice for good dog owners and more vigilance to stop bad owners spoiling the tranquil urban reserve.
Hyndburn’s dog warden Jane Grady will increase patrols on the reserve and hand out poo bags. She has provided more signs to ask dog owners to pick up their dog’s mess and the Wildlife Trust has put up a sign reading ‘fixed penalty notices will be issued to dog owners who are failing to remove dog faeces’.
Jane has also agreed to use coloured spray on areas where dog dirt has been left to help visitors, especially children and local schools, to spot and avoid it.
Kim will join Jane on teatime patrols at Foxhill Bank, when they can hand out details of Dogs Trust workshops, which encourage better behaviour in owners and their dogs, in the area.
Kim said: “We will be asking local schools to design ‘Thank You’ certificates for good owners. So we are encouraging people to behave responsibly.
“But we need to be strong on people who are not responsible and we want local people to tell Jane and myself to provide descriptions and car registrations of any offenders.”
The Wildlife Trust said the partnership with Hyndburn council will provide lessons for other nature reserves in the region.
Campaigns officer Alan Wright said: “We have issues with dog owners on every site where we have public access.
“As well as dog fouling, some owners are not keeping their pets under control and, in the most serious cases, volunteers and officers have been attacked by dogs.”