Anglers call for crack down on dog walkers

Anglers on Hampstead Heath have called on police to put a tighter leash on dog walkers whose pet pooches maraud in their fishing ponds.

The mischievous dogs can cause havoc, becoming entangled in fishing lines and chasing the wildfowl at the designated fishing sites. The incidents often land the anglers in hot water, with the dog owners blaming them for injuries to their pets.

The Hampstead Heath Anglers Association has called on the Heath Constabulary to be tougher in their enforcement of bylaws which require owners to keep their dogs “under proper control” and prevent them from jumping in prohibited ponds.

Chairman Doug Slade claimed the rights of anglers on the Heath had been eroded over the years and this was just another example.

He said: “We are actually fighting this for the moment with the superintendent on the Heath and we’re having a bit of a barney.

“Dogs have been caught on lines and been stuck on hooks a few times and the owners blame us.”

A few years ago fishermen were facing a permanent ban from the Heath after accusations that they were responsible for the deaths of swans and ducks living on the ponds. But it was later discovered that dogs were more likely to blame.

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Two years ago the City of London Corporation, which manages the open space, set aside part of pond No 1 on the Highgate side of the Heath for dogs to take a dip. But anglers say tougher measures are needed to stop dog walkers from ruling the Heath, including better signposting of the anglers’ ponds.

Bob Sharp, who has run a family tackle shop in Gospel Oak since the early 1980s, said: “It is for the parks police to sort out.

“What do they term under control? If it means that the dogs should be able to come back when called, then a lot are not.”

He added: “Anglers have to have a permit to use the Heath, but no one else does. Is that not discrimination?

“Dog walkers who make money from the Heath are free to use Heath without a permit or licence.”

Ron Vester, a nature enthusiast on the Heath, said: “These fishermen sit there with their lines out, someone throws a stick into the pond and they have to pull their lines out immediately. There is a lot of screaming, shouting and swearing.

“Dog owners on the Heath think they have carte blanche and they have attitude too, so I do sympathise with the fishermen.”

Richard Gentry, the City’s constabulary manager, said: “The constabulary take a common sense approach to this issue and are ready to intervene if there is a dog in a pond that might be threatening wildlife or causing a nuisance.”