DOG owners are facing new restrictions at a nature reserve in Bournemouth.

The regulations have been implemented on signage at The Wilderness - a 600-metre stretch of the Stour Valley Nature Reserve between Kingfisher Barn and Berry Hill.

BCP Council has attached signage across the area requesting dog walkers keep their pets on leads, pick up after them and not allow them to enter the river to swim or paddle.

The local authority said the rules will help to protect the conurbation’s “cherished wildlife”.

Councillor Andy Hadley, portfolio holder for climate response, environment and energy, BCP Council said: “In our nature reserves across the BCP area, we prioritise wildlife, habitats and the environment, whilst allowing a large amount of managed public access for all of our visitors.

“This area is a very sensitive part of the 2.8 mile long site managed by our rangers within the reserve and given the unseasonal warmth we are already seeing birds starting to nest across our sites.”

The Stour Valley Nature Reserve supports a huge range of habitats and species, including otters, kingfishers, kestrels, grey herons, badgers, barn owls, grass snakes, with more than 400 species of plants, 26 species of butterfly, 116 species of birds and 21 species of dragonfly and damselfly on site.

BCP Council has a ranger team based at the nature reserve which works alongside volunteers and members of the community.

Cllr Hadley continued: “We are requesting that our visitors help us protect our wildlife by keeping dogs on leads, pick up after their dogs and not to enter the river to swim or paddle.

“We have a surfaced path running parallel to the Wilderness area where dogs can be off lead and avoid the most sensitive areas of the site.

“We welcome, appreciate and thank all responsible visitors who respect wildlife, habitats and the environment on our countryside sites.”