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Christchurch owner let her dog eat rare curlew eggs at nest near Burley in New Forest

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A WOMAN was caught on camera allowing her dog to attack a rare bird’s nest in the New Forest and eat the eggs.

The incident was recorded on CCTV set up to monitor curlews which were in a protected ground-nesting area near Burley.

The woman’s dog was seen to attack the curlew nest three times on 27th May and eat the unhatched eggs.

The curlew is endangered (picture: Jonathan Heath)
The curlew is endangered (picture: Jonathan Heath)

Police were called and, after viewing the footage and making further inquiries, they identified a 48-year-old Christchurch woman as the owner of the animal.

She was issued with a community resolution order and a dog behaviour contract requiring her to keep her pet on a lead while on Forestry England land during the nesting season.

She was also required to make sure that any other dog she owns, or is owned by relative, is kept under control at all times while in the Forest.

Wildlife and rural crime officer PC Matthew Thelwell said: “Curlews are ground-nesting birds that are extremely rare and endangered – and sadly in this case, there was no clear attempt or intent by the owner to control their dog whilst off its lead.

“This has led to the destruction of a number of rare eggs, as well as the nesting area of the birds in the local area.”

The New Forest Dog Owners Group, which has 1,200 members, praised the police for taking action.

There are a number of nesting sites in the New Forest (picture: Elli Rivers)
There are a number of nesting sites in the New Forest (picture: Elli Rivers)

A spokesperson said: “Dog owners have clear responsibilities, and if owners won’t accept these, they must accept the consequences.

“This is an extreme case, but a clear warning to owners who use the New Forest to act properly.”

As reported in the A&T, there are signs around the national park urging visitors to keep away from sensitive areas and stick to the tracks, with some car parks shut to avoid disturbance to rare birds.

A spokesperson for the verderers added: “It is simply not acceptable for dog owners to allow their animals to kill, injure or chase kill wildlife or livestock.

“The importance of dogs being under control cannot be overestimated. The Forest is a wonderful place to walk dogs and long may it remain so.

“We urge all dog walkers not only to behave responsibly themselves, but also to do whatever they can to encourage other dog walkers to do likewise, for the benefit of all.”

Charlotte Belcher, community ranger from FE, said: “Ground-nesting birds have already been lost from many other parts of the UK and we are so lucky to still have them here in the New Forest.”

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