When Beach Cleaning Goes Bad!

Urgent action from our Wildlife Trust volunteer livestock checker saves the day at Overton Mere!

Please come prepared when carrying out a beach clean!

Please come prepared when carrying out a beach clean!

As we all know the corona virus lockdown has thrown up many challenges. Here at The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) some tasks we have wanted to get done have been missed due to running on a reduced staffing structure and volunteer activities being halted.

One volunteer whose activity could not cease was our Overton Mere livestock checker who visits the reserve daily, on foot from her home in Overton village saving the livestock owner a 30 mile round trip. The law requires daily checking of livestock welfare.

The flip side of the easing of the corona virus lockdown, while many people are still furloughed from their employment, and with some great weather, is that more people have been out and about. Some choose to do their bit for the marine environment with ad-hoc beach cleans. This is certainly the case at Overton Mere and the combination of good intentioned beach cleaning and a shortage of WTSWW staff time to follow up on removing the debris which had been collected and piled up away from the beach nearly brought tragedy to one of the ponies grazing this reserve.

The photographs show the pile of collected debris and a tangle of fishing line and net which our volunteer livestock checker managed to remove from where it was stuck in Dolly the pony’s mouth. Grazing animals be they ponies, cattle or sometimes sheep are essential to the sustainable management of these coastal habitats and piles of loose collected material can be hazardous to them. (It is also a hazard to seabirds and other terrestrial wildlife, especially scavengers, and even more so when left next to litter bins of mixed waste).

Thankfully with local staff busy elsewhere the owner of the ponies was able to get to site quickly and remove the hazardous material.

If you do choose to carry out an ad-hoc beach clean please go prepared - take a good strong sack, bag the collected material that could be hazardous to livestock (large plastics are not such an issue) and securely tie the top. Take it away with you if you can but if disposal is an issue leave the intact bag in an safe place (and if you are on one of our reserves let us know).

Thank you!