Deer killed in attack at nature reserve

We remind dog owners to keep their pets under control to protect wildlife

We want all visitors to enjoy our nature reserves, such as Smardale (above) but urge dog owners to keep their dogs under close control © John Morrison

The RSPCA were called out after a roe deer was attacked, presumably by a dog, at Smardale Nature Reserve near Kirkby Stephen recently. We were shocked and saddened by the incident and ask all dog owners to ensure that dogs are kept under close control, to prevent such attacks on wildlife.

Andrew Walter, Reserves Officer at Cumbria Wildlife Trust said: “We received several calls from concerned members of the public on Saturday 6 March around 2pm, reporting that there was an injured deer on our nature reserve. The injuries suggest that it was attacked by a dog. As their distressing photos showed, the wounds were serious and despite alerting the RSPCA, the deer didn’t survive.”  

Andrew said: “We welcome dog walkers on our nature reserves, as the vast majority of them are responsible, but as all dogs descend from the wolf they pose a real threat to wildlife, as this recent incident vividly shows. Wildlife naturally fear domestic dogs, so even without physical chasing or attacks occurring, the regular presence of dogs on nature reserves will reduce numbers of wild animals. These sites are havens for wildlife. Therefore, we strongly urge all dog owners to be responsible: dogs must be kept on a lead or under close control at all times. Dogs should be kept to the designated routes and not allowed to roam off them. This is especially important at this time of year as animals are settling down to mate, nest or give birth. It’s also lambing time for many farms in the area, so extra vigilance is needed wherever you are in the countryside.”

Andrew continued: “We want all visitors to enjoy Smardale and our other nature reserves, but we ask everyone to please treat these sensitive areas with respect. Dog owners, we’d also like remind you not to leave dog mess on nature reserves - please take your poo bags home with you.”

Dogs can be walked on most of our nature reserves, as long as they are kept on a lead (or under close control) at all times, so that they don’t disturb wildlife or livestock. However, in order to protect ground nesting birds from disturbance, dogs are not permitted at South Walney Nature Reserve at any time. Temporary or seasonal restrictions may be in place at other nature reserves during the bird nesting season (March to August), for example at Foulney Island Nature Reserve. 

More information for dog owners  

We want all visitors to enjoy Smardale and our other nature reserves, but we ask everyone to please treat these sensitive areas with respect
Andrew Walter, Reserves Officer
Cumbria Wildlife Trust