Dogs take the lead in wildlife initiative
A new south coast project, Coast and Country Canines, is encouraging dog owners to walk in a safer, more enjoyable and wildlife aware way.
The initiative has been spearheaded by wildlife organisation Bird Aware Solent and is headed up by animal behavioural specialist Shona Jenkins. It celebrates dog walks that benefit wildlife and other coast and countryside users, while keeping our four-legged friends happy and engaged.
Councillor Seán Woodward, Chairman of the Partnership for South Hampshire, the body that oversees Bird Aware Solent, said: ‘The Solent coastline is rich in nature with coastal birds which fly thousands of miles every year to our unique wildlife habitats. Dog walkers can help these birds thrive by looking out for them and keeping their pets alongside them, so birds can feed and rest without being disturbed’.
A new website, www.coastandcountrycanines.org, is packed with free training resources and recommended coastal walking routes. Through an online presence, as well as events along the Solent coastline, the initiative aims to build a community of like-minded dog walkers that enjoy walking in a wildlife friendly way.
The Coast and Country Canines initiative aims to put dogs at the centre of its mission, supporting owners who do the right thing and who set an example to others. It aims to show that dog owners can be part of the solution to wildlife disturbance.
Shona Jenkins said: ‘All of us at Coast and Country Canines are passionate about dogs: they are such an important part of our lives, and a daily walk is a chance to bond, relieve stress and make the most of our amazing natural spaces.
‘Positive change can be most effective when it happens on a community level: we aim to engage with dog owners by finding common ground’.
The initiative also aims to embrace the wider community of dog industry professionals, including dog trainers, behaviourists, vets and commercial dog walkers, to ensure that the best advice and solutions continue to be shared.
Bird Aware Solent works on coastlines around the New Forest, Southampton Water, Portsmouth, Chichester and Langstone Harbours and the northern coast of the Isle of Wight. It is formed of a partnership of 19 different local authorities and wildlife organisations.
The wide range of recreational activities which take place on the Solent coast, including dog walking, can often unintentionally result in disturbance to the birds that spend the winter here. Bird Aware Solent aims to mitigate the impact of additional recreational activity resulting from new homes built by raising awareness of coastal birds and encouraging people to adopt wildlife aware behaviours. This mitigation is designed to ensure additional activity has no significant effect on the three special protection areas (SPAs) in the Solent: Solent and Southampton Water SPA, Portsmouth Harbour SPA, and Chichester and Langstone Harbours SPA.