Dartmoor dog walkers could be fined £500 for letting pets off the lead

Now Dartmoor could ban dogs: Walkers could be fined £500 for letting their pets off the lead during lambing and bird nesting season

  • Dartmoor National Park Authority looking to toughen up by-laws for visitors
  • Could result in guidance for dogs being kept on 2m leashes becoming a law
  • Tougher steps in response to farmers seeing cattle repeatedly attacked by dogs
  • The famous beauty spot could also ban wild camping, overnight stays in caravans and group barbecues

Dog owners who let their pets off the leads on Dartmoor could face being fined £500 if a proposed rule change is accepted. 

Currently, people walking their dogs are advised to keep them on a lead on common moorland during the lambing and ground nesting bird season.

But a plan to change the park’s by-laws could result in it becoming law of the land.

It comes as Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) looks to take a tougher stance on visitors following a spate of bad behaviour during the pandemic.

Dog owners who let their pets off the leads on Dartmoor could face being fined £500 if a proposed rule change is accepted

Currently, people walking their dogs are advised to keep them on a lead on common moorland during the lambing and ground nesting bird season. But a plan to change the park’s by-laws could result in it becoming law of the land

Other changes could ban wild camping, overnight stays in caravans and group barbecues. They are included in a consultation which is open until November 1.

A document published online shows the addition of the line: ‘Between 1 March and 31 July each year all dogs have to be kept on a short lead of no more than 2 metres in length.’

The park authorities also want to limit any visitor to a maximum of six dogs.

Neil Cole, Dartmoor sheep farmer, said he supported the tougher line after seeing his cattle repeatedly attacked by dogs.

He said: ‘We are getting more and more cases of dog worrying, dog attacks, just dogs disturbing wildlife as the numbers of dogs increase.

‘The sheer number of dogs and people out here are having such a huge impact on the environment and us as farmers.’

The park authority could also ban wild camping because of bad behaviour which soared during the pandemic. Pictured: A tent and fire pit left by campers in Dartmoor

The lambing and ground nesting bird seasons run from March to the end of July – when park guidance encourages dog owners to have their animals on leads.

Dog owner, Rod Alsford, from Moretonhampstead, Devon said it would be ‘going too far’.

‘I think it’s over the top. The rules are already in place for people to control their dogs, it’s absolutely unnecessary.’

A spokeswoman for DNPA said: ‘We are doing this to ensure the byelaws are fit for purpose and help protect the national park for all to enjoy today and tomorrow.

‘Updating the byelaws is an important topic for everyone who cares about Dartmoor.’

What could the rule changes be for Dartmoor National Park? 

Dartmoor National Park currently has several bylaws in place to protect its wildlife, habitats, cultural heritage, archaeology, and the livestock that graze the commons.

However, the current set of by-laws for the beauty spot were adopted in 1989 and so are now over 30 years old.

Because the park has seen a change in habits by visitors over the years, the authority is looking to impose new rules and guidance.

Some of the changes also take a tougher stance on bad behaviour, including littering, which has been on the rise with people wanting to go staycations during the pandemic. 

 In a rule change on ‘Parking’, a new by-law would prevent people from ‘occupying or sleeping’ in caravans around the park between 9pm and 9am.

For camping, rules could be tightened to stop people erecting tents for more than three people or using trees to set up hammocks. There is already a rule stopping campers from staying in the same spot for over two nights.

There are tough new rules for disposable barbecues, which effectively ban them if they ’cause fire, damage or harm to the land or vegetation’.

Fireworks, Chineses lanterns and flares are also set to be banned. 

Dog walkers will be expected to keep their pets on a leash anywhere on the park’s access land ‘between 1 March and 31 July’, to coincide with lambing and nesting season.

The rule changes are available to be viewed online and are included in a consultation which is open until November 1. 

Source: Dartmoor National Park Authority 

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