Anger at free-roaming cows in Beacon Hill area off limits to human visitors
An environmental worker from Loughborough was annoyed to see a closed area of Beacon Hill still occupied by a herd of cows.
The public is banned from parts of the green space until late summer to ‘preserve nesting birds’ – but an official complaint has been raised as cattle ‘will likely now trample all nests’ ‘.
Alwyn Hart regularly visits the park and, like others, misses her walks through Jewels Hill, which has been closed to the public since April 1.
But a visit one evening last week left Alwyn frustrated.
The 59-year-old told LeicestershireLive: “The closed area is occupied by a herd of cattle which will probably now trample all the nests, so why can’t we have access to it?
“There are many scientific studies on the extent of trampling predation, but what worries me most is the precedent it sets.
“The other side of the hill is exactly the same heather land. Plus, the protection of this area stops regulars climbing it entirely.”
But Leicestershire County Council (LCC) said the cattle were more interested in grazing.
A spokesperson said: “Since there are so few, they are unlikely to disturb ground nesting birds and other wildlife; they are interested in finding grass to graze on.”
The original notice placed on Jewels Hill reads: “For conservation reasons it is necessary for us to restrict access to Jewels Hill from April 1 until the end of summer to protect the soil from nesting birds. who use this area for reproduction and to allow vegetation to reproduce. recover and flourish. “
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LCC National Parks and Estates Director Richard Hunt said: “We are aware of the concerns raised by the public and can understand their frustration.
“However, our actions to temporarily restrict access to Jewels Hill will preserve wildlife and help the park’s ecological environment continue to thrive.”
The council explained that the cows in question were only passing through the area temporarily.
But they say visitors will continue to see cattle in the Jewels Hill area from time to time.
The spokesperson added: “Late Wednesday afternoon we began taking cattle from the Beacon Hill heathlands for their statutory TB screening.
“The plan was for them to move into part of the Jewels Hill area and into the area where they will be tested.
“However, the cows chose not to cooperate with this and the rangers made the decision to leave them there until the next morning, where they were successfully moved.
“Visitors will see cattle in the Jewels Hill area from time to time during the restricted access period, but the level of grazing will be reduced from previous years.
“We have 19 cattle in our herd at Beacon Hill and this low intensity grazing is a key part of our conservation regime.
“Having large herbivores has a positive effect on the food chain, their droppings are used as a food source for the dung beetles and flies that help feed our visiting summer birds.
“Cows will also reduce the amount of nutrients in the soil, which in turn contributes to the colonization of wildflowers.
“Since there are so few of them, they are unlikely to disturb ground nesting birds and other wildlife; they are interested in finding grass to graze on.”
The County Council has 19 cattle in its herd at Beacon Hill – Highland; Dexters and English Longhorns, a breed from Leicestershire.