New rules for Rover - a code of conduct has been introduced for Woodbury Common dog walkers

© Guy Newman. 08.03.2018. Conservation experts from L-R Julie Owen, Devon Loves Dogs coordinator, Ki

© Guy Newman. 08.03.2018. Conservation experts from L-R Julie Owen, Devon Loves Dogs coordinator, Kim Strawbridge, Site Manager, EDPH, Kate Ponting, Countryside Learning Officer, CDE, East Devon Eddy (Sama Euridge), Edric Hopkinson, senior reserves officer, Devon Wildlife Trust, Amelia Davies, Habitat Mitigation Officer for South East Devon habitat regulations partnership launched a campaign to encourage responsible dog walking and follow a new code to ensure they are enjoying the area in a way that respects other visitors, animals and wildlife. - Credit: © Guy Newman

A new code of conduct for Woodbury Common dog walkers has been introduced; the rules call for responsible dog walking, including picking up after pets, plus respecting for other visitors, animals and wildlife.

Dog walkers exercising their pets on Woodbury Common are being urged to follow new rules in a bid to protect wildlife.

Conservation experts want ‘responsible dog walking’ on East Devon Pebblebed Heaths, and have introduced a new code of conduct for owners.

The new set of rules asks to respect other visitors, animals and wildlife.

The small act of dog walkers cleaning up after their pets will help protect the heaths and wildlife, say conservation experts.

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The new code has been drawn up by the Pebblebed Heaths Conservation Trust, the RSPB, Devon Wildlife Trust, Devon Loves Dogs and the South East Devon Habitat Regulations Partnership.

It urges dog walkers to:

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• Keep your dog in sight, on the path and think of other visitors, otherwise keep them on a lead.

• Prevent your dog from disturbing wildlife or grazing animals, particularly important during the bird breeding season from March to August.

• Always pick up after your dog wherever you are, take waste home or put it in a bin.

• Walk no more than six dogs and ensure you are confident in managing them at the same time

• Read and follow signs, report any problems

In addition, commercial dog walkers need a licence from the land manager.

Kim Strawbridge, East Devon Pebblebed Heaths site manager, said the Woodbury Common heaths were an ‘incredibly important site’ for many rare and threatened species.

Kim said: “We provide dog waste bins to encourage people to pick up after their pets. Most people make use of these but the amount of dog poo on the heaths is still one of our main complaints from the public.

“Dog poo damages the plants and wildlife that make the heaths so special. Clearing up after your dog protects the area as well as preventing the spread of diseases that can affect people, other dogs, and grazing animals and keeps the heaths clean for other visitors.”

Stephen Hussey, from Devon Wildlife Trust, said: “We find that many owners react positively when we explain why cleaning up after their dogs and keeping them under close control is not only good for other visitors but for the wildlife we all love and want to see.

“This is where these guidelines are proving useful, helping us to convey messages about the need for us all to care for our precious heath lands.”

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