Exmoor National Park Rangers are asking people to be mindful of ground nesting birds, baby deer and other wildlife that may have been caught out by the sudden return of visitors to the moors.

Many ground nesting birds will have nested in Spring while crowds were away, making them particularly vulnerable to disturbance now that visitors and dogs have returned.

Ranger Charlotte Wray said: "It's great to see people enjoying the outdoors once again. But with most businesses still shut and the need to social distance, we're seeing a lot more people heading to open moorland and quieter parts of the National Park, where previously nature has been free to carry on relatively undisturbed."

Credit: ITV West Country

Please tread carefully and be mindful that wildlife may not have had time to adjust to the sudden influx of visitors and turn up in some unusual places, such as on or near paths. If lucky your thoughtfulness may be rewarded by some pretty amazing natural encounters.

Charlotte Wray, Ranger
An Eurasian beaver on Exmoor. Credit: PA

Charlotte continued: "Ground nesting birds are particularly vulnerable and known to abandon their nests if they feel threatened by predators. This includes your family dog, who in following its instincts can innocently ruin these rare birds' chance to breed successfully."

The park asks that visitors:

  • Time it right. Dawn and dusk are peak activity times for many animals, especially during the hotter summer months.

  • Keep a respectful distance. If an animal lingers on in one location, ask yourself why - it may have young nearby and feel extremely stressed by your presence. The same applies to livestock with young.

  • Stay on the paths, particularly around habitats often used by birds and other animals for nesting or shelter.

  • Keep your dogs on a lead. Curious dogs can scare ground-nesting birds and cause them to abandon their nests.

  • Leave the BBQ at home. Moorland fires can be particularly devastating to wildlife in breeding season.

Credit: ITV West Country