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Highwoods Country Park is a wonderful place to exercise your dog so do come and visit. For those of you who already use the park regularly to walk your dog the following question and answer section may also be of interest to you.
Is the park a 'Dogs on Leads' zone?
Only the car parks are a 'dogs on leads' zone all year round. The grassland area around the lake is a 'dogs on leads' zone during the summer months of June to September when the area is likely to be at its busiest with families picnicking, people fishing and children playing. In the winter months live stock graze some of the meadows. Usually only one field is grazed at any one time and as a result will be closed to public access. Other wise the park is open access to dog walkers.
What is the 'Code of Conduct' for dog walkers in the Park?
The code is a voluntary guide line that if followed will ensure that the park stays a pleasant, safe and enjoyable place for all visitors. The main things required are to:
How many dog waste bins are there in the park and where are they located?
There are 17 dog waste bins in Highwoods Country Park. They are located at most pedestrian entrances to the park and there are two in each car park. The Country Park map shows their location and can be downloaded opposite.
Can there be more bins installed within the park?
There are 600 bins in the borough and they cost £32,000 annually to empty. Currently there is no extra budget to pay for the installation and upkeep of any additional bins. If in future money becomes available for more dog bins it is still unlikely they would be installed internally within the park. A full dog waste bin bag is heavy so it is only feasible to carry it a short distance thus the bins need to have vehicular access. Most of the central area of the park is only accessible in the summer months by an off road vehicle. Also it is park policy to keep waste facilities to the edge of the park as much as possible to maintain the park's aesthetic value and countryside feel.
Are dog waste bags available at the Park?
The Visitor Centre has a dog waste bag dispenser mounted on the wall outside the front of the building where you can collect a bag for free should you forget your own bag.
Why are dogs not allowed in the lake and ponds?
The lake is important for wildlife and for fishing; both can be disturbed by dogs in the water. Water can carry disease and the lake may contain discarded fishing line and hooks which can be a hazard to your dog. The ponds are also important areas for wildlife, especially nesting birds, which are easily disturbed by dogs. The ponds are used for environmental education and organised children's activities.
What should I do if I find a lost dog or lose my dog in the Park?
If you lose your dog or find a lost dog in the park and it is during office hours contact the Visitor Centre. At least 12 dogs are found each year in the park. Most are reunited with their owners within half an hour if the dog has an ID collar; those that do not have any identification take far longer to deal with. If the dog is not reunited with its owner before the Rangers' Office closes, the Colchester Borough Council Dog Wardens are called to kennel the dog overnight. The cost of retrieving a dog that has been picked up as a stray is £65 - £75 plus £13 for every night that it spends in the kennel. There is an additional charge of £25 if you want the wardens to return the dog to you rather than collect it yourself. Borough wide the wardens pick up 300 dogs a year. A dog will be kept for a maximum of seven days after this it become the property of the kennel and although they will make every effort to re-home it there is a chance that it may be destroyed. The Dog Wardens can microchip dogs at your own home for free. They will also chip cats for £20. For more information go to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01206 282581.
What are the main concerns raised by the public about dogs in the Park?
Apart from lost dogs, the main area of concern is owners who do not clear up after their dogs, or those who do clear up but leave their bags by the path side or even worse hanging in the trees! Dog waste is not only unpleasant but can pose a health hazard. Think of others, especially visiting school groups, and remove dog waste - take it home for disposal or bag it and bin it. If caught by the Colchester Borough Council Dog Wardens there is a £50 fixed penalty fine for not clearing up after your dog. If the dog bag is discarded into trees or left on the ground the culprit could also face a further £60 littering fine.
For more information on dog walking in the Country Park or if you have any other questions please call the Ranger Service on 01206 853588.