Earlier this year, Somerset Wildlife Trust announced that dogs — with the exception of guide dogs — would be restricted to the public rights of way (the droves) on their Westhay Moor and Catcott nature reserves and that they would no longer be permitted on any central permissive paths.
The restrictions have been in place since 15th August, at which time a spokesperson from the Trust explained: “This isn’t a decision we are taking lightly or without proper consideration. We know that there are lots of responsible dog owners who visit our reserves, and we regret the inconvenience this may cause them. Unfortunately, this decision has been made as a direct response to a growing number of irresponsible dog owners visiting our reserves. Westhay and Catcott are primarily managed for nature and wildlife, and it is vital that we can make sure they remain safe havens for the rare and vulnerable species that make their homes there.”
The majority of dog-walking visitors to the nature reserves have since been following these new rules, and the Trust has said how appreciative they are to everyone who has respected the decision and helped them protect the vulnerable species living on the reserves — which have been thriving since the restrictions came into place, with visitors reporting regular otter sightings, including cubs being spotted playing in front of some of the hides, and roe deer grazing on the main path at Westhay.
More information about the new restrictions on these reserves can be found on the Somerset Wildlife Trust website: https://www.somersetwildlife.org/wildlife/nature-reserves/dog-walking-reserves/dogs-westhay-catcott