Cairngorms National Park

Uath Lochans from Farleitter Crag, Kingussie

Hold tightly and tread lightly this spring

28th March 2014

Spring is an important time of year for ground nesting birds and the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) is encouraging people to be keep their dogs on a lead and tread lightly in key areas this spring.

With the clock change at the weekend even more people will be getting outside and enjoying what the Cairngorms National Park has to offer.   Many of the forests in the National Park are home to our most iconic species, the capercaillie, and loose dogs disturbing birds at nesting time can have a real impact on chick numbers.

The RSPB asks people to act responsibly by keeping their dogs under close control or on a short lead in areas like moorland, woodland and forests, during the bird breeding season which may last from April through to mid August

Richard Thaxton of RSPB Abernethy National Nature Reserve said: “Dogs are our best friends but in the forest they can be a real threat to wildlife. Your pet may be as good as gold at home but in the countryside with its unusual sights, sounds and smells, their more basic instincts can be stirred. Ground nesting birds can be scared away from their nests by dogs, leaving eggs to chill, young to die of cold or fall prey to other creatures.”

Farmers are also encouraging dog owners to be aware of lambs and livestock when they are out and about in the Park.  Sadly it is a time of year when sheep and lambs can be injured or killed by attacks from uncontrolled dogs, a loose dog can also be dangerous for the owner.

CNPA board member and farmer Eleanor Mackintosh explains,  “Cattle can be unpredictable around dogs and can react very aggressively, particularly if they have calves.  If you find yourself in this situation, keep calm, let your dog go if it is on a lead and take the shortest route to safety.”

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code provides comprehensive advice for dog walkers and all aspects of accessing the scottish countryside in a safe manner at www.outdooraccess-scotland.com