Trust urging people to be extra vigilant following fires and fly tipping incidents

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is calling on people to be extra vigilant after two major grass fires destroyed a large swathe of countryside and following a surge of fly tipping and vandalism incidents on its nature reserves.

On Tuesday, over 80 firefighters worked through the night to bring a grass fire at Cannock Chase, near Brocton, under control. On Wednesday, 50 firefighters from across the county were called to tackle a grass fire at Wetley Moor Common, near Bucknall in Stoke-on-Trent.

Several species of wildlife, including ground nesting birds, invertebrates like spiders, ants and beetles, and reptiles like lizards, will likely have been killed as a result of the fires due to the damage in habitat.

Incidents of fly tipping have also increased recently across several of the Trust’s nature reserves, including Hem Heath Woods, in Stoke-on-Trent, and Gentleshaw Common, on the southern edge of Cannock Chase.

Earlier this week, it was also reported that a well-used bird hide at Doxey Marshes, in Stafford, had been targeted with graffiti.

The Trust has backed calls made by Staffordshire Fire and Rescue service for people who are able to exercise in the countryside during the coronavirus lockdown to be vigilant.

Jeff Sim, Senior Conservation Manager for Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “The land is extremely dry at the moment and there has been an increase in the number of deliberate fires in grassland which can spread easily.

“We would urge people to be extra vigilant, especially during this time of national crisis.

“It is heartbreaking to think of the damage caused to wildlife and the environment. We would call on local people who live close to the countryside to be cautious during this time of high risk and call 999 immediately if they see smoke coming from a nature reserve, country park or open countryside.

“Disappointing, fly tipping incidents have also been increasing recently. If you're visiting a nature reserve on your daily permitted exercise and see instances of illegal fly tipping, please report them to Staffordshire Police, phoning 101 immediately.”