Dogs banned from Suffolk beach to protect Ringed Plovers


Dogs are to be banned on a section of a Suffolk beach in order to protect nesting Ringed Plovers.

The Landguard Trust has announced it will not be allowing dogs on or off leads on the southern section of Landguard Nature Reserve in Felixstowe between 1 April and 30 September in an effort to try and boost numbers of the wader.

The declining species, which is on the UK Red List, is especially disturbed by the presence of dogs, as well as people, kites and drones.

Ringed Plover is on the UK Red List due to its decline as a breeding bird (Tom Moodie).


Dog disturbance

Cordons have been set up to reduce disturbance and trampling around nesting sites, but the birds need to feed on the beach, where they continue to be disturbed and where the chicks are at their most vulnerable.

Dogs will continue to be allowed to exercise on or off lead in the northern section of the nature reserve, including the beach, and can be walked on the lead to the landward side of the cordons.

Fishing is also forbidden in front of the cordons as it also causes disturbance and attracts predators, but can take place in the northern section and along the river.


Iconic species

In a statement, the trust said: "Ringed Plover is an iconic species here at Landguard and although very much loved by visitors, are becoming a less common sight. We hope with the public's help and consideration they continue to successfully breed here for many years to come."

Studies have shown how ground-nesting birds on beaches are frequently scared away from their nests by off-lead dogs. Ringed Plover protection zones have been established elsewhere in the country, along with the banning of dogs on certain beaches and the threat of fines for dog walkers.