Leicester Mercury

Uncooperat­ive cows ‘threat to nesting birds’

- By FINVOLA DUNPHY finvola.dunphy@reachplc.com @finvoladun­phy

AN ENVIRONMEN­TAL worker from Loughborou­gh was incensed to see a closed-off area of Beacon Hill still occupied by a herd of cows.

The public are banned from parts of the green space until late summer to preserve nesting birds – but an official complaint has been raised as the cattle will “presumably now trample any nests”.

Alwyn Hart regularly visits the park and, like others, is missing his walks through Jewels Hill which has been cut off to the public since April 1.

But a visit one evening last week left Alwyn frustrated. The 59-yearold said: “The closed area is occupied by a herd of cattle that will presumably now trample any nests so why can’t we have access?

“There are lots of scientific studies on the extent of the predation by trampling but what alarms me most is the precedent that this sets.

“The other side of the hill is exactly the same heath land. Plus protecting this area stops the regulars who climb there entirely.”

But Leicesters­hire County Council said the cattle are more interested in grazing.

A spokesman said: “As there are so few of them, they are unlikely to cause disturbanc­e to ground nesting birds and other wildlife.

“They are interested in finding grass to graze.”

The notice put up on Jewels hill says: “For conservati­on purposes, it is necessary for us to restrict access on to Jewels Hill to protect the ground nesting birds which use this area for breeding and to allow the vegetation to recover and flourish.”

The council’s head of country parks and estates, Richard Hunt, said: “We’re aware of the concerns raised by the public and can sympathise with their frustratio­n.

“However, our actions to temporaril­y restrict access to Jewels Hill will preserve the wildlife and help the park’s ecological environmen­t to continue to flourish.”

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