Following the recent news that, despite excellent care and attention by The Swan Sanctuary in Shepperton, the swan cygnet attacked by a dog at the end of September succumbed to its injuries, The Friends of Richmond Park has contacted The Royal Parks (responsible for managing the Park) and they have provided this statement:
“This incident serves as a very serious reminder of the importance of keeping dogs on leads and under control when they are near wildlife in The Royal Parks.
“The dog owner called the parks office when the incident occurred, and our Senior Wildlife Officer attended the scene within four minutes and took the injured animal to the Swan Sanctuary.”
Dogs on Leads – compulsory around Pen Ponds
On preventive measures, the TRP statement says:
“Over the next couple of months, we will be reviewing our signage around Pen Ponds to ensure all notices that request dogs be put on leads are compulsory, rather than advisory. The Parks police are responsible for enforcing our regulations, but with Richmond Park covering 2,500 acres it is impossible for them to monitor every single dog owner that visits.
“The onus therefore must be on dog owners to behave responsibly, to adhere to signs and to remember this is a National Nature Reserve. If there is any doubt of the temperament of a pet, it should be on a lead. This is not only for the benefit of waterfowl, but to protect the deer, birds and other wildlife that inhabit this park.
“In addition, next year we will be launching a community ranger initiative in Richmond and Bushy Parks which will aim to engage and inform the public about appropriate behaviour around wildlife, and other park issues.”
This was the second swan attack at Pen Ponds over the summer and early autumn indicating how dogs off leads or not controlled properly by owners represent a major threat to wildlife. As a charity dedicated to the conservation and protection of Richmond Park's wildlife, The Friends of Richmond Park urges dog owners to keep dogs on leads anywhere need wildlife and in particular in these areas and times:
Around Pen Ponds and other water bodies where there are water fowl: all times of year and particularly during nesting April to September
Skylark nesting areas (as signposted), 1st March to September
During deer birthing season all around the Park, May and June
During the deer rut, all parts of the Park keeping at least 50m from deer.
If in any doubt, keep your dog on a lead
We understand that the owner of the dog in the cygnet incident was mortified and made a substantial contribution to The Swan Sanctuary.