Why are dogs in the lead?
In the breeding season, nesting, spawning, calving, and their young at a later time, are particularly vulnerable. Stray dogs can seriously disrupt the peace of animals. They can attack small animals or chase the parents, which leads to a sad end. Touching a little boy or a small rabbit also has unpleasant consequences: the mother can refuse her young.
In Dutch forests and nature reserves, dogs must generally be kept on a leash all year round (section 461 StGB). You enter the property where the owner rules apply. Only in designated areas outside of the leash are dogs allowed without a leash. However, we see plenty of examples of game being hunted and attacked by stray dogs. From killer roe deer to stalking meadow birds.
“My dog wouldn’t do that”
Forest and nature managers in forest and woodland groups and BOAs regularly encounter stray dogs in the woods and nature. Private property owners are also increasingly having to deal with stray dogs. The answer the owner often hears is: “My dog wouldn’t do that.” But by letting the dog run free, often off the tracks, wild animals have less space to hide. Plus, other visitors and leashed dogs aren’t always happy to roam around with four-legged friends.
Bart Castelen has been an environmentally friendly and animal manager for the municipality of Arnhem for over eighteen years. Every year, he and his colleagues encounter stray dog victims.
Bart: “People have no idea what effect it has on nature. Often there are attacking deer and larger animals, but there are also birds that breed on the ground, such as meadowbirds and Nightjars, and small animals that are bothered by stray dogs. Unfortunately, the owners are not very sympathetic. They scold you, promise you improvement – in vain – or even accept a possible fine.”
From a warning to an official report
Bart continues, “One time a rider whipped me when I drew his attention to his leashed dog in the middle of the breeding season.” “And I saw it happen in front of my eyes when a woman released her dog, and he immediately rushed into the woods to get a fawn. When that happens, people are usually impressed. We once had to shoot a deer at a camping site that was attacked by a dog. Small dog, owner The deer was touched by tears.”
The signs are obvious, but many dog owners don’t follow the rules.
Bart: Earlier, we issued a warning for the first time to dog owners. But after a few days I saw the same people walking their dogs without a leash again. Now people are fined on the spot, official report of 108 euros. It wouldn’t work if you pointed out the rules kindly and asked them to put the dog on a leash.”
Additional Compliance Checks
Many counties are placing more emphasis on stray dog enforcement. In the Utrecht Collaboration on Nature Stewardship model, for example, in which forest groups are also involved, agreements have been made to allow implementers and stewards to better work together in Utrecht Nature Reserves. The application of stray dogs is one of the spearheads in the cooperation model, to ensure that owners lock down their four-legged friends so that fewer accidents occur between the dog and nature.
Bart Castelen: We have 1,400 hectares of forest here in Arnhem municipality, and I’m the only green BOA for the forest. There is also a green BOA for Sonsbeek Park. Fortunately, we will be up here as well.”
Responsibility for the game of hunting and killing
Norbert de Groot, a forest and nature manager at Bosgroep Midden Nederland who works part-time at BOA Green, has also encountered many unpleasant situations with stray dogs. From killing a roe deer and a badger to savage owners. A colleague was bitten in the leg by a stray dog while doing a blaze.
Norbert: “As a dog owner, I have always and everywhere wanted to take into account their hunting instincts. It is not for nothing that we ask people to put dogs on a leash. In addition, it is also punishable if you do not. Fines can be Great. In addition to Section 461, there is Section 3.24 of the Nature Conservation Act, which focuses on the protection of wild animals. This states that it is forbidden to allow a dog to track, kill, injure, capture or obtain animals under your supervision. This means that in addition to a possible fine To allow the dog to escape, an additional heavier fine can be paid if your dog catches or catches the game.”
As a guest in an open property
The Hubers family owns Groot Holthuysen’s private estate in Huissen, which is open to visitors. People are guests of our site. We kindly ask them to put their dog in front, but they simply refuse. Banners that include, among other things, the message “dog on a leash” are simply removed or destroyed. We recently found a deceased deer, which appeared healthy and unharmed, but most likely died of a heart attack. Roe deer and other deer are very sensitive and can die from stress if they are hunted. We find the most annoying thing is that the owners have no respect for nature and the owner of the area.”
Norbert de Groot: “We’re seeing an emerging trend that more and more property owners are closing their properties completely to dogs. To create more peace for the animals and protect nature. Then dog owners can’t enjoy them anymore. It shouldn’t go that far, right?” Because other harassment is also increasing. The violation rate is linked to a lack of green cheerleading agreements; additional oversight is really desirable.”
Mother Nature’s Nursery Campaign
Various site management organizations such as Natuurmonumenten and Staatsb Glosbeheer draw attention to the “Mother Nature Nursery Room” and the importance of a peaceful environment for animals. They do this, among other things, with banners and banners at the entrance to nature reserves. Forest groups have posters for their members to print and hang during the breeding season. This is an additional resource in addition to the opening signs used by many land owners. These signs contain the access rules from Article 461 of the Criminal Code, with the line “dog on a leash”. The Het Ree Association has also been offering free campaign materials for many years.
The breeding season runs from March 15 to July 15. Do you keep your dog at the fore in the woods and nature, especially in the spring? This way we all contribute to an undisturbed breeding season.
Text: forest groups
Images: forest groups; Valentine Schoen Bart Castelen