Dogs and Nature
The Nene Valley is home to the Upper Nene Valley gravel Pits Special Protection Area. This is an area of former gravel pits that are now home to thousands of internationally protected bird species that migrate thousands of miles here every winter between October and March to nest and feed. These gravel pit lakes are perfect for these species due to extensive shallow and deep open waters, sparsely vegetated islands, gravel bars, and other “bird-friendly” habitats.
Dogs pose one of the biggest threats to these bird species, as sniffing around bird nests and chasing birds can mean that these already endangered species use up their precious energy supplies, and not survive the winter. Even when dogs don’t chase birds, just by encroaching on their safe spaces, these birds can feel threatened and fly away, with each disturbance using their limited energy supply.
During the summer months, there are many breeds of ground nesting birds, that although undetectable to the human eye, can be easily sniffed out by dogs with their highly sensitive noses. Again, this disturbance can be the difference in these birds surviving or not.
Luckily, there is a place for us all in nature and we can enjoy these spaces whilst allowing the bird population to happily coexist with our furry friends. Check out our Woof’s Ways for how to act responsibly in the Nene Valley.
Fun Facts About Dogs and Nature
Did you know?
Dogs are often used to help protect nature. Their amazing sense of smell is used to help monitor wildlife. Harvest mice are the UK’s smallest rodent, weighing about the same as a 20p coin. Because of their tiny small size, they can be very hard to monitor and so it can be difficult to confirm whether they are surviving in an area. In recent years, researchers have trained dogs to sniff out harvest mouse droppings, giving them a much more accurate picture of how these tiny mice are faring in the wild. Additionally,
as more wind turbines are built in the UK, there is increasing concern about the threat to flying animals including birds and bats. Specially trained dogs are being used in these areas to detect any dead bats or birds nearby to get a clearer picture of their damage.
Did you know?
Dog poo contains high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen, both of which fertilise the soil. Whilst this may not seem like a bad thing, lots of our rare plants and wild flowers will only thrive in nutrient poor soil. If soil becomes too fertile, bully species like nettles and hogweed will take over and our wildflowers will disappear.
Dog poo can spread diseases both to humans and livestock. Neosporosis is a disease transmitted in dog poo that, if contracted by cattle, is untreatable and can cause calves to die before they are born. An estimated 5% of cows abort their calves due to neosporosis annually, costing the average dairy farmer £3000 each year. Picking up your dog’s poop can help to protect our hardworking cows from this horrible disease.