The Scottish Wildlife Trust is asking members of the public to ensure that they access the outdoors responsibly, taking into consideration other users of a site and abiding by warning signs that are in place to protect wildlife.
This comes after two incidents at the Trust’s Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve on Thursday (15 July), when several people accessed the loch using paddle boards and a canoe.
Loch of the Lowes is well known for its breeding ospreys – a protected species that have been breeding at the Perthshire reserve for over 50 years and which are known to be easily disturbed by people.
Emma Castle-Smith, Visitor Centre Assistant Manager at Lowes, said: “The warning signs are there to protect wildlife on the reserve. As well as ospreys, there are a wide range of other species that come to Lowes to breed such as great crested grebes, and disturbing them at this critical time of year can massively affect their chances of breeding success.
“Choosing to ignore these warning signs also ruins the responsible wildlife watching experience that thousands of people come here to enjoy each year.”
Trust Reserves Manager, Rab Potter, said: “The Scottish Outdoor Access Code makes it clear that a person must not cause intentional disturbance to birds and other animals when accessing land or water. By ignoring warning signs that highlight the disturbance risk to wildlife, it’s clear that some selfish individuals are not acting responsibly.
“We strongly encourage everyone to access the great outdoors responsibly and pay attention to any warning signs that are in place to help protect wildlife.”
The Scottish Outdoor Access Code, which details a person’s rights and responsibilities in accessing land and water in Scotland, states that responsible access includes following any information aimed at preventing significant disturbance to wildlife and that intentional disturbance can be an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.