Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Wildlife under Threat ?

For some time now I have noticed Local Councillors, and officials with clip boards discussing and looking at the riverside area between the Road bridge and Merryton bridge. I understand this is to be “cleaned up and managed”. If this entails the stopping of old sewers leaking into the river in this area and removal of litter and alien plant species, plus some broken old trees, that’s fine. If however this entails manicuring the entire area, and allowing easy access to people and dogs then this could be highly detrimental to the local wildlife!
The Island strip in the middle of this part of the river, serves as a retreat and haven for waterbirds such as Ducks Mergansers, Moorhen and Heron. The dense riverbank is also used by a myriad of small birds throughout the winter months, such as Goldfinch, Bullfinch Chaffinch, as well as more common species such as Blackbirds Doves and Robin. After spending the last eight years and around £1000 a year encouraging the wildlife to proliferate and winter on the lower river, I feel I have earned the privilege to protect them. The one thing I am absolutely certain about, is that the more people and dogs are allowed close onto the riverbank, then the more the wildlife will be disturbed and disappear!
This is a tidal area and provides over wintering for many water birds. The impact of people and dogs are always detrimental to wildlife in some form or another. An example of how the council through ignorance can have a negative impact on wildlife, could be seen earlier this summer when the vegetation along the riverside at the seaman’s hall was cut away, destroying small bird habitat and allowing dogs easy access to young cygnets that use this area! No one has yet owned up to authorising this, although it was Council employees who cut it.
It is also common knowledge that our resident Pen was almost killed two years ago by a dog, yet when I asked the council for a few signs to be put up around this area pointing out dog owners responsibilities, it was refused! I would like to remind the council that people are only responsible if they are constantly educated and urged to be responsible, I have spent years taking flak because I have urged responsible dog ownership and care of the wildlife.
This not only includes conforming to The Scottish outdoor access code on dogs, but also on the outcry over dog mess littering the riverside paths!
Some responsible dog signs should be put around the lower riverside, at least to accommodate the large amount of tourists that bring their dogs to Nairn caravan site. Many are ignorant of our local wildlife and allow their dogs total freedom to run wild. When are our Councillors going to start behaving responsibly themselves, and start taking notice of what the law abiding public want ? We don’t want dogs mess all over the place, and we don’t want the wildlife attacked and killed by uncontrolled dogs either!
There are already unofficial pathways all along the riverside from the road bridge upriver, we do not want dogs bounding into the river below the road bridge as well, scaring the wildlife away !
We want a clean safe river environment, and a habitat that is safe for the wildlife that we all want to see, all the year round for generations to come. In conclusion I urge the Councils to be mindful of the impact of their actions, and balance the needs of the environment and wildlife with that of human distraction, interference and vote garnering. ( A copy of this comment has been passed to regional and Community councillors ).

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