Message To Dog Owners At Fleet Pond

A recent incident at Fleet Pond has yet again reminded us how important it is that dog owners keep their dogs under proper control.  The latest case was of a dog that caught and killed two very young cygnets.  The owner was dismayed at what the dog had done and apologised for the distress caused to those who saw the incident.  This dog had never shown any inclination to attack and kill anything before and yet two of this year’s young birds now lie dead.

“Under control” means that the dog should be within sight and that the dog will respond promptly to a call to heel.  Very important at all times but especially when the wildlife is raising young.  A dog might seem to the owner as a fun friend, not capable of harming anyone, but any dog is basically a hunter predator whether it be an Alsatian or a miniature poodle.  That is why humans domesticated dogs from the beginning of the human/dog relationship.  They were with us in the hunter role seeking out and bringing down prey.

Chairman of Fleet Pond Society, Colin Gray, who had the sad task of removing the bodies of the latest casualties, said: “Fleet Pond swans are accustomed to being fed at Chestnut Grove and willingly leave the water to take food.  Their young will follow and, although an adult swan will attempt to defend cygnets against a dog, the dog always wins the battle.  It took only a few seconds for this dog to catch and kill before the owner could intervene.”

Colin continued: “We would not wish to insist that all dogs are kept permanently on the lead at Fleet Pond, even it is was possible to enforce such a rule.   Incidents like this latest one clearly show that dog owners must recognise that Fleet Pond is a nature reserve not a public park where a dog can run free without risk to wildlife.  Harming or killing wildlife is breaking the law on a Site of Special Scientific Interest and could attract high fines.”

Fleet Pond Ranger, Joanna Lawrence said: “Dog walkers play an important role in the life of Fleet Pond as they are one of the main site users.  We very much appreciate their vigilance which is especially important at this time of year when there are lots of young wildlife around.  Even a well behaved dog can sometimes go for a young bird or deer etc.  We ask, therefore, that owners keep a close eye on their dogs when around the Pond to avoid any injury to wildlife, or to the dog itself.”

This article can also be found in Get Hampshire.

If you have any comments on this topic, please leave them below.

4 thoughts on “Message To Dog Owners At Fleet Pond

  1. This is a very sad loss.

    ““Under control” means that the dog should be within sight and that the dog will respond promptly to a call to heel.”

    I have been out photographing birds many times at the Fleet Pond and on numerous occasions people have asked me if I have seen there dogs,as they have gone missing.

    Maybe keeping dogs on leads is not a bad idea,this rule is enforced at other nature reserves.

  2. With regard to the above subject I think it is imperative dogs are kept on leads, even if it from Chestnut Grove around to where the path leaves the waters edge. I am a dog owner and walker around the pond and am very aware dogs can become killers and will not respond to anyone once they have decided to attack. It must be remembered the pond area is a nature reserve and all nature reserves I have visited in the UK either ban dogs altogether or insist on a lead or containing them in an area away from the wildlife. It is not only the birds that are at risk but the deer and other wildlife. I do not think an enforcement of keeping dogs on leads in certain areas would put people off, infact most would welcome it if it will protect nature. Motorbikes, horseriding and fishing out of season are already banned so I would think a polite notice asking owners to keeps their dogs on leads in certain areas of the pond area would work. I am in the process of obtaining feedback from other nature reserves on how they deal with this issue, including the RSPB and also plan to ask Hants County Council how they are able to help.

    1. Hi Caroline

      Many thanks for your comment and initiatives. Please keep us in touch with developments, we’d be very interested to hear about the outcomes.


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