Protecting our Wildlife - Information for Dog-Walkers
Wimbledon and Putney Commons are naturally a favourite spot for local, and not so local, residents and their dogs. This large open space and ranging woodlands, at a safe distance from busy roads, is a perfect place for your dog to run free and discover the delights of the Commons for themselves. Please see our map for help planning your day out.
We want all our visitors to enjoy the these special areas of natural beauty, but to do so responsibly and with consideration for others. One of the biggest challenges we face in managing the Commons is balancing the needs of a very diverse group of users. From dog-walkers, golfers, horse riders and cyclists to families on picnics, children playing and, of course, our wildlife.
Bird/Wildfowl Breeding Season
The Commons are home to abundant wildlife who live and thrive in this natural environment and, as spring approaches, and our ground-nesting birds and wildfowl on the ponds are starting to nest, they are very vulnerable to disturbance - mainly from dogs.
Over the last two or three years there has been a notable increase in both the number of attacks by dogs on nesting birds and wildfowl and also in the severity of those attacks, most notably the killing of a swan by a dog last year, and this needs to be a real wake up call for all of us.
During the bird breeding season (March to August) it is essential that when visiting the Commons with your dogs that you ensure your dog is under control and does not disturb birds that are nesting.
The Conservators take their responsibilities towards the protection of birds and wildfowl very seriously. We clearly mark the areas where we are encouraging the ground-nesting birds and notices asking dog walkers to keep their dogs on leads have again been placed around The Plain. Grass paths will be cut through the meadow as the grass grows and we ask that all walkers keep to these paths to minimise the risk of disturbing birds that might be breeding.
From the 1st April, signs will also be put up on the main paths to the ponds requesting that dog walkers keep their dogs on leads, as wildfowl are breeding around the edge of ponds.
Our Mounted Keepers are undertaking patrols of these sensitive areas to ensure that dog walkers are adhering to these simple rules. We understand that some people object to these restrictions but it would be appreciated if the notices could be left in place and not ripped down.
We understand that, however well-trained, your dog may act on its baser instincts when coming unexpectedly face to face with a swan on a path - so it is up to you to keep them in check. If you have any doubts as to how your dog may react around our wildlife - please keep them on a lead during this critical time.
Please help us by respecting the work we are doing to preserve our wildlife - they have as much right to be as sage here as your dog.
Dog walking Guidelines and Byelaws
As with all of our visitors, we ask that dog-walkers also consider other people when visiting the Commons with their dogs. As already mentioned, we have a very diverse group of users of this open space, and all are equally important. However, dog fouling and poor dog control are among the largest number of complaints that we receive here at the Ranger’s Office, so it is vital that we act to ensure that a few anti-social dog walkers do not spoil the Commons for other people.
These five rules are designed as easy-to-follow common sense guidelines to help you keep to the byelaws of the Commons:
- Clean up after your dog - but please, do not then hang that bag in a tree. This is something that is happening more and more and it is simply not acceptable.
- Keep your dog under control and be prepared to put it on a lead if necessary - if your dog is out of your sight, it is not under control. Remember there are horses being exercised on the Commons that can scare quite easily when a dog suddenly appears near them
- Please abide by any instructions on Wimbledon and Putney Commons notices
- Be considerate of other people and be aware that some people find dogs intimidating, particularly the elderly, infirm and the very young
- Do not walk or congregate with others if it will mean you have more than four dogs in your group.
Most of these guidelines are byelaws, which means you may be fined or prosecuted for breaking them.
For more information on walking with dogs on the Commons, please click here, or contact the Ranger's Office.