Dog lead confusion at Felixstowe

DOG walkers were today warned they must keep pets on leads on beaches at Landguard at Felixstowe amid growing confusion over where animals can be exercised.

DOG walkers were today warned they must keep pets on leads on beaches at Landguard at Felixstowe amid growing confusion over where animals can be exercised.

Owners of dogs have complained of being verbally assaulted this summer by beach users telling them forcibly to get their pets off the resort's shores.

But the animals are allowed on most of Felixstowe's five-mile coastline all year round, and are only banned from a three-quarters of a mile stretch of the main holiday beach in summer.

However, there is one area where dogs must always be kept on leads, whatever the season - and Suffolk Wildlife Trust has moved to remind people of their responsibilities and that they could be prosecuted for breaking by-laws.

Landguard ranger Malte Iden said dogs must be kept on the lead on the southern part of Landguard nature reserve, including the shore area.

He said: "Not to keep them on the lead is against Suffolk County Council by-laws, which apply right down to the low water level.

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"The beach is the most sensitive part of the reserve as it is in this habitat that shore birds struggle to raise their young at precisely this time of year.

"Landguard is breeding ground for ground nesting birds such as Ringed Plovers and Oystercatchers. Their chicks roam on the seashore and they are extremely vulnerable to disturbance.

"Even a harmless and well-behaved dog will instinctively be recognised by the birds as a carnivore and will be perceived as a threat.

"Such disturbance can keep the adult birds from protecting their chicks from wind, weather or natural predators and it is responsible for the death of many recently hatched flightless chicks."

The by-laws apply to the 40-acre southern section of the reserve and prohibit people from bringing any dog or other animal "unless it is kept under proper control, and is effectively restrained from injuring or disturbing any animal or bird". A person can be fined up to £50 for breaking the law.

The issue over dog walking on the resort's beaches was raised by mum Rachael Smith, of Brook Lane, who was on the shore at Cobbold's Point when she was confronted by a woman, whose attitude she described as "rude and ignorant", telling her to get off the beach.

Dogs are banned from the beach between the Spa Pavilion and the junction of Arwela Road and Sea Road between May and October.

Suffolk Coastal council is trying to secure a further beach ban for a stretch of shore between Brackenbury and the The Dip in Old Felixstowe, but the proposal has generated protests and may be subject to a public inquiry.

n. Do you think dogs should be allowed on beaches? Write to us at Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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