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Dog owners urged to put dogs on lead after cow found dead at Birkdale Hills Local Nature Reserve

Sefton Council, and coastal conservation partner, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, are dismayed to find one of the conservation cattle on the Birkdale Hills Local Nature Reserve has died after seemingly being chased down, by one or more dogs.

Chased

A post-mortem on the animal, which was found dead on Thursday 9th February, confirmed that the otherwise healthy animal had suffered from exhaustion and stress consistent with having been chased.

The cattle grazing at Birkdale Hills Local Nature Reserve

Green Sefton’s Countryside Officer, Gordon White said: “Each winter, we bring grazing animals onto the Local Nature Reserves to help control vegetation growth.

“Our team cares for these animals every day and have great concern for their welfare and wellbeing.

“The small herd has not been with us long and it’s shocking and sad to learn that one of them has apparently died in this way.”

By helping control the growth of vegetation, the cows’ grazing, in turn, encourages diverse plant species to grow and dune specialists such as natterjack toads, sand lizards and northern tiger beetles to thrive.

Signs

Mr White continued: “We have posted signs at the Reserve’s major entrance points to inform people of the presence of the cattle.

“I would ask dog owners to put their pets on a lead and ensure they are under control to prevent this from happening again, and just as they would in any farmers field where cows or sheep are present.

“These cows are docile animals and used to seeing people, but we do suggest that if people do come across the cattle, they should turn and walk the other way to avoid disturbing or spooking them.”

Disappointed

Sign containing information on the cattle grazing in the enclosure

A spokesperson for Lancashire Wildlife Trust, which owns the cattle said: “We are very disappointed that one of our animals appears to have been chased down by a dog to the point where it has died.

“This would not have been a quick death for our animal and it would have suffered extreme distress at the time.

“We feel sure that no-one would want these animals to suffer in this way, and so appeal to all visitors to the site to ensure that if they are walking their dog(s), to please keep them on a lead whilst in the enclosure and if you do spot the cattle take a wide route around them so they are not unnecessarily disturbed.

“There are lots of alternate walks in the vicinity that do not go through the enclosure and the cows are only on site for a short time during each winter.”

Countryside Code

Deceased cow laying on the ground after being chased down

We encourage all visitors to follow The Countryside Code and familiarise yourself with Sefton’s Coastal and Visitor Areas Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) – a list of activities that aren’t allowed in order to protect our sensitive environment and ensure everyone has a good time at our coast!