Outrage over new signs that say no to walkers on Tetney Marshes
SIGNS stopping people from venturing onto Tetney Marshes have angered dog walkers who have used the makeshift footpaths for decades.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which has owned the nature reserve for 40 years, says it was forced to erect the signs after a Humberston Fitties Neighbourhood Watch member said he was threatened after confronting a person whose dog had attacked a swan.
But locals have described them as "offensive and arrogant" and many are ignoring them – some have been spotted making rude hand gestures before walking further out into the marshes.
Site manager Pete Short said people have never been allowed to go on the marshes because it is dangerous and can damage the site of Special Scientific Interest, which is stated on a sign next to the North East Lincolnshire Council-owned car park.
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Mr Short said: "This is an area people should be proud of rather than thinking it is their right to be there. We don't want people to stop enjoying the site but they have to respect it is a nature reserve and while they can use it to an extent, they can't walk across it. We have never allowed anyone to walk on the marshes but they have chosen to ignore that.
"People can enjoy the Fitties and the beach but we must stop them damaging the nature reserve."
Tetney Marshes covers 1,500 hectares of coastal mudflats, saltmarsh, dunes and saline lagoons. It is an important part of the Humber Estuary, which is one of the top five estuaries for birds in the UK.
There is 289 hectares of saltmarsh and is one of the largest areas of this threatened habitat on the east coast north of The Wash.
It attracts wintering twits and hen harriers, and was once home to 70 pairs of nesting redshanks, although these have been lost.
The public is allowed to use the lagoons for crabbing and there is an area before the marshes where people can walk their dogs but beyond that, the land is prohibited.
Dave Chatterton, 79, from Scartho, has been walking on the site for 50 years and takes his 12-inch mini-shnouzer, Georgie, for a walk there. A member of the Wildlife Trust, he gets much enjoyment from the reserve and is outraged by the signs.
He said: "They are stirring up trouble for themselves. People are defying the signs anyway, I have seen lots of people just walking straight past them, putting their fingers up at them. There was never any need for them.
"The RSPB has put a fence across a pathway used by many people for many years and I would like to question their right to do that. It is a sort of half-hearted attempt to block the path way against walkers who have been using it for many years. I have never seen anyone walking dogs and misbehaving.
"One sign has already been torn down. They are causing considerable anger among dog walkers.
"It seems to be a totally arrogant effort to do something which has never been needed for so many years and stop the pleasures of running your dogs along the sea bank summer and winter."