Dog walkers must keep their pets on a lead at the Ayres National Nature Reserve or risk a £2,5000 fine from next week.
In recent years several dog attacks have been reported to police at the ANNR where it is an offence to let dogs run free from April 1 to 31 July.
Some birds such as terns make a 50,000-mile journey to breed on the Isle of Man each year. Ringed plovers, oystercatchers, curlews, skylarks and meadow pipits also visit to lay their eggs at this time of year. The loss of suitable breeding habitat has led to a decline in numbers of some species highlighting the importance of the ANNR.
Environment Minister Geoffrey Boot said: ‘When chicks hatch out they move away from their nests and wander freely under the watchful eye of their parents. It can be many weeks before they learn to fly and during this time they are extremely vulnerable so people must keep dogs on leads at all times.’
The restrictions to dog walkers apply to the heathland and the beach and enable ground nesting birds to settle in their breeding areas and raise their chicks. Visitors are asked to stay on the main paths and move away if birds show signs of agitation or distress.
It isn’t only at the ANNR dog walkers are asked to be responsible, they are also being again asked to avoid disturbing pregnant ewes and lambs on or near farmland.
Mr Boot added: ‘There have already been instances reported to police this week, of dogs causing serious injury or death to ewes and lambs so it is important that we respect the island’s farmers and remain cautious.’