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Isle Of Wight Breeding Birds Put At Risk By Trespasser — Make Sure You Know The Law

Police are urging people to keep to public footpaths when visiting nature reserves and areas with nesting birds, and to familiarise themselves with the law following an incident at Brading Marsh RSPB Reserve.

On Saturday 25 May, a man climbed over a fence and trespassed onto a private area of the marsh in order to photograph birds, disturbing and flushing a number of birds in the process.

Brading Marsh is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

It is home to a number of protected species of wild bird, ground nesting birds such as lapwing which are susceptible to disturbance, and other Schedule 1 birds, some of which breed here annually.

Under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, Schedule 1 birds are afforded special protection, making it a criminal offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb these birds while they are nest building, or at a nest containing eggs or young, and it is an offence to disturb the dependent young of these birds.

You can read up on the full list of Schedule 1 birds on the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) website.

Regardless of your intentions, if your actions are reckless and cause a disturbance then you are in breach of the law.

PC Dianne Read, from the Country Watch team, said:

“Brading Marsh is the Island’s only RSPB reserve and is home to an array of fascinating species, including rare visitors and a number of protected species that breed every year.

“Trespassing on the protected areas of the reserve will disturb the birds, as was seen in this case, and at this time of year this activity could deter them from breeding or nest building all together, or cause them to abandon their nests or young.

“We are a nation of wildlife lovers, and there is a strong community of wildlife and bird enthusiasts and photographers on the Isle of Wight – the vast majority of which behave responsibly and put the welfare of the wildlife first.

“Unfortunately, incidents such as this highlight a small minority who pose a risk to our native wildlife.

"Regardless of whether there is any malicious intent or not, recklessness has an impact and is a criminal offence.

"Please stick to public footpaths at any beauty spots across the Isle of Wight to ensure you are not disturbing birds during the breeding season.”

Anyone with information about wildlife crime is urged to report this to police on 101, or via the report tool online at www.hampshire.police.uk

Dial 999 if a crime is in progress.

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