Responsible Wildlife Walking
Wild Ways Well went for a wander this week, taking the loop down through Cumbernauld Glen. The incessant rain and snowmelt have transformed calm streams into rivers of fast murky water. We watched a dipper for a while as it stood on a rock, its characteristic motion showing where it got its name. It’ll be a long wait for the water to settle before it can properly swim and feed.
It’s a hard time for wildlife right now. Later on our walk we came across a beautiful Roe Deer grazing just a few feet away. It watched us warily as it ate but hunger overcame fear and it tolerated our presence. Not for long though as a pair of dogs appeared, running off the leash, and chased the deer away through the woodlands.
The dogs didn’t catch the deer but that isn’t the point, the chase is damage enough. The deer’s life right now is balanced on a knife edge, juggling calories gained by eating against those expended in the struggle to stay alive. Being chased means it isn’t eating, for half an hour or more while it settles itself down it won’t be looking for food. The act of running for its life means it has also expended a huge amount of energy, burning calories that it will have great difficulty replacing – and who knows how many dogs it will meet today? This scene might be repeated several times. Dogs might rarely catch or directly kill wildlife but the relentless pressure of the chase is just as lethal for creatures struggling to survive.
We want people and dogs to enjoy our woodlands but right now it is important to do so responsibly, with dogs under control and on a lead so we can all, people and wildlife alike, share these spaces together.
Paul Barclay, Community Networks Officer