Wildlife Trust plea to keep pets under control as video shows dog chasing birds at Pegwell Bay

A dog chasing birds at Pegwell Bay

A video showing a dog off the lead disturbing sea birds in a protected area at Pegwell Bay has prompted wildlife experts to appeal to dog owners to keep their pets under control.

The 60-second clip was taken by a wildlife watcher as he was observing coastal birds. It shows the dog off the lead chasing birds on the mudflats, a restricted part of the bay which is a designated dog control area to protect the feeding grounds for birds.

Owners risk a £100 fine for breaching the public space protection order by letting their dogs off the lead in the zone, a step that has been taken by the local authority to protect wildlife in the area.

The wildlife watcher who captured the video said: “The poor birds have little chance to rest and feed if they are being chased by dogs off the lead. Pegwell Bay is part of the nature reserve and is a vital feeding ground for migrating birds. By all means, take your dog for a walk but keep it under control on a lead.”

Kent Wildlife Trust manages Sandwich and Pegwell Bay on behalf of multiple landowners and has been working with Birdwise East Kent, Thanet District Council enforcement officers and Kent Police’s Rural Task Force in a bid to combat ongoing disturbance of wildlife on the protected site.

Kent Wildlife Trust’s Protected Area Warden, Nina Jones said: “We are working hard to protect the wildlife on this site but continued disturbance is an ongoing problem and may be the cause of a major decline in some migratory bird species.

“This area should be their haven, but we are seeing more and more reports of dogs chasing vulnerable birds that need to rest and feed before long migratory journeys to wintering or breeding grounds.

“Statistics show that dog ownership spiked during the pandemic and it is only natural that people want somewhere nice to walk their pet, but all too many owners simply ignore the signage and just do not just understand the damage their pet is doing.

“A dog frolicking in the water with birds, to some, looks harmless but it causes a huge amount of stress on those birds who simply will not return to the area. So, I would ask all dog walkers in the area to please, respect the dog control area and keep your pet on a lead.”

The video was shared online by Wildlife presenter Richard Taylor-Jones who said: “Every time birds are disturbed by dogs; they use energy they would not otherwise do so. So not only does it mean the birds are stressed and scared, but they must also find more food to get through the day.

“At this time of year, some of these birds have just returned from the arctic circle, traveling thousands of miles, and are exhausted. This disturbance could be the difference between making it and not.

“This type of disturbance is simply all too common at Pegwell Bay, a site of European Site of Special Conservation. It’s time to start enforcing the law and fining the people that are breaking it.”

Tips for coastal dog walkers:

  • Give birds that are feeding or resting plenty of space.
  • Control your animal so that it does not disturb or scare wild birds.
  • Keep all dogs under control at all times.
  • Never allow or encourage dogs to chase birds.
  • Keep noise levels low around sea birds.


    • It does seem a bit daft.
      But I don’t hold out much hope. There are far too many dog walkers who have no regard for anyone or anything else. Just look at the amount of dog mess on our paths, parks and beaches.

  1. All dogs should be on leashes/leads,when out of their homes ,at all times. Problem then solved,a fine for any owner who doesn’t do it

    • To be fair you should be kept on a lead. Just because 1 person does a bad thing do you then label every person as bad ? of course you don’t so why label every dog as bad, when i take my dog out all she wants is to case here ball, not all dogs are bad just like all humans are not bad.

      • No one is saying the dogs are bad, it’s the irresponsible owners. Pegwell is a desperately needed feeding ground for lots of wading birds that are losing suitable habitat, and dogs stress out the birds just by being there (hence the ban on dogs in that area) but dogs chasing them means they might not return. There are a hundred places in Thanet you can take a dog for a walk, but only one place where these birds can live.

          • The answer to your question Robert, is yes in many cases I have experienced! Firstly many dog owners are unaware that their precious dog barks incessantly when left alone! Thats because dogs are a pack animal, and when there is no pack, like the absence of the owners, they suffer from “Separation Anxiety”, and bark because they are frightened!

            Many dog owners are completely unaware a dog must be socialised, taken for regular walks to get them used to other dogs on a lead, and exercised. Many dog owners take on a dog that is totally unsuitable as a pet, I know of one case where a young couple had 4 Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs, permanently confined inside a 2 bed bungalow, and never taken out. They also had a young son of perhaps 7 or 8, and last year 22,000 people were attacked by dogs and needed NHS treatment!

            A few months ago as I was going along Margate Road on my Mobility Scooter, I saw a man ahead with a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, who stopped to let me go by. As I did so the dog leapt up hitting me on the shoulder, nearly knocking me off my scooter, and barking furiously an inch from my face and neck, before the owner pulled it off me! So, yes there are a lot of people out there who should not be dog owners, and don’t get me started on sheep worrying!

  2. No fines because of no enforcement. KWT could help by far more and clearer signage.
    Asking people to keep their digs away from the birds, off the mudflats is difficult when you can’t point to an official notice that you can easily see.

  3. The same could be said of cats that are allowed to roam free, killing and eating birds. Much of our wildlife is decimated by cats.
    Yet so-called cat lovers would protest at this kind of criticism. Unlike dogs, it is the utter cruelty (torture and mutilation) that cats perpetrate. Neuter the lot of them and let our wildlife thrive.

  4. I have an invisible disability, I do not appreciate your dog jumping all over me or licking me. I would not allow my child to crawl and jump all over you, why do many dog owners think that this is acceptable behaviour?

        • Someone told me they would “thump me” in Ellington Park the other day,when their dog was bothering mine (who was on a lead) when I told it to go away. It had no recall,I didn’t threaten it or make any gestures, just said shoo, go away. “stop talking to my dog like that or I’ll thump you.” I was also called a stupid woman when I demonstrated with him. Little black cockapoo thing, coked up owner, 6.30am. Be warned.

  5. All Seagulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 & the Crown.
    If a farmer sees a dog troubling his cattle he has the right to shoot that dog, so has the Crown not the right to shoot a dog too?
    If someone was to shoot the dog would this be seen as protecting the Crown or a criminal offence?

    • It should be seen as shooting a dog in order to protect wildlife. Of course, owners should be ultimately responsible as they are in Australia with cats being kept indoors by law. The protection of wildlife should be paramount.

  6. Totally agree, cats should be kept indoors and taken for walks like a dog.
    Cats can come in to my garden and do their business, but if my dog went in to the cat owners garden and cr@pped in their garden it would be a different story.
    I have to check my lawn everyday before we can enjoy it, ie grandkids etc.

  7. They are not seagulls, they are migratory birds, some rare. If dogs were on lead that would also help to protect people.

  8. Kent County Council need to enforce the penalty fines.Thanet Council need to also stop wind surfers and Jet Skiers disturbing birds and seals, instead of cosying up to windsurfers. Independent reports show that windsurfers also disturb birds. If someone doesn’t act soon all the birds and seals will disappear

    • TDC needs to stop jetskiers “disturbing”, to put it mildly, swimmers, splashers-around and paddle-boarders!

  9. In my book, Lucy Letby is a crazed animal who should be put down. Likewise, certain breeds of dogs that attack and kill children. Who cares why they do it. They do it and the consequences are the same.

  10. Lucy Letsby is a deeply disturbed person. However, her crimes are not relevant to the subject of this article.

  11. MM Rees, you are also deeply disturbed. Always showing sympathy for the criminals of the worst kind. Letsby is relevant on here because she is a crazed animal that kills children. Just like mad dogs not on a lead.

  12. I don’t see how anybody can interpret my comments as “showing sympathy for the criminals of the worst kind”. The above article is not actually about “mad dogs”.

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