‘#taketheleadie’ competition asks the public to show their love for wildlife

Dartington dog walkers get engaged, keeping the countryside clean and safe with a creative new campaign
It’s that precious time of year again when the countryside becomes home to the young and new-borns of many different species – from lambs and fawns to birds. At the Dartington Hall estate, where wildlife conservation is ingrained in the mission and work, a campaign has been launched to get everyone on board with protecting the vulnerable baby animals by keeping their dogs on short leads during ground nesting bird season (1 March to the 31 July).

The competition invites anyone walking their dog on the Dartington estate to take a selfie depicting their dog on its lead and post it on social media using the tag #taketheleadie. Participants will be in with a chance to win one of four locally-sourced prizes – three 500ml tubs of tasty ice-cream from Dartington Dairy, tea and cake for two at the award winning Green Table café, a box of beef burgers from Jolly Farm or a hamper of dog treats from The Shops at Dartington.

Harriet Bell, Community Resilience (food and farming) manager for the Dartington Hall Trust, explains: “Whilst it may not seem like a significant action, particularly if your dog is not prone to hunting, keeping your dog on a short lead at this time is a great help to birds, a surprising number of which nest on the ground and many of which have seen distressingly significant population decline.

Dogs off lead, or on long leads, can unintentionally trample through ground nesting bird sites whilst exploring, accidentally destroying nests and egg clutches or just generally frightening mother birds away from their nests, meaning they cannot incubate their eggs. By keeping dogs on short leads and sticking to paths everyone can give these birds a better chance of breeding by helping to reduce disturbance in areas where they might be nesting.”

Ground nesting bird season occurs between 1 March and 31 July, during which time these birds and their eggs are particularly vulnerable.

The best images will be chosen by staff on the estate who particularly love animals and the winners will be announced in August.

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