LUDSHOTT Common, an area of natural beauty near Headley Down and Grayshott and one of the largest remaining areas of heathland in East Hampshire, has seen a rise in the number of dog owners using the common land during the Covid pandemic.
The small team of National Trust rangers who look after the 735 acres of common, alongside 300 acres at Selborne, have encountered a huge increase in the number of issues impacting the site and their limited resource as a team, as many more people have taken to the outdoors during lockdown restrictions.
This included littering, altercations between livestock grazing on the common and dogs, fly tipping and the destruction of pathways from sheer footfall.
One of the most unpleasant problems the rangers have had to deal with has been the massive amount of dog waste left behind on the common and in the overflowing dog waste bins.
"Because of the huge increase in dog walkers using Ludshott Common in the past year, we have really struggled to keep up with the disposal of dog waste left in our bins, on top of all our other duties," said Matt Bramich, head ranger for Ludshott Common.
"Emptying them costs the charity a lot of money, and we’re still unable to keep on top of the problem. They fill up more quickly than we can empty them, which results in people leaving their dog waste on top of and around the bins for us to pick up, or even hanging in bags in trees.
"It’s a sad and sorry way to treat a beautiful place like this, and it causes a health-and- safety risk to other visitors and to our staff.
"As a charity we have limited funds for waste disposal, so as a result we have made the difficult decision to remove the dog waste bins on Ludshott Common.
"We want people to visit Ludshott Common, to enjoy this beautiful landscape and its wildlife, but we need dog owners to help us look after it by picking up after their dog and taking their dog waste home with them."
* What do you think? Do you sympathise with the rangers? What is the answer for dog owners who enjoy using the common? Email your views to us at [email protected]