People are putting their lives at risk by skating or walking on frozen lakes on North West nature reserves.
The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside are warning winter sports enthusiasts that nature reserves are not the place to get their skates on.
And the Trust has two reports of members of the public walking on the frozen lake at Foxhill Bank, in Oswaldtwistle, and skating on the flooded Lunt Meadows in Sefton.
Campaigns Manager Alan Wright said: “It is concerning to hear that our wetland nature reserves are being used for Dancing on Ice practice, but we need to warn people that this is dangerous.”
“These lakes are deep because of the recent floods and there will be areas where the ice is going to be thin.”
“Our reserves, by their nature, are remote places and if anyone gets into difficulties, there will only be a few, if any, people around to help.”
The Trust has also stressed that skating and boating on lakes when the weather is warmer, are not good for the wild creatures that inhabit the nature reserves.
Trust Health and Safety Advisor Ben Turpin said: “Frozen lakes pose a significant risk to life and must not be used for any recreation or entertainment. The Trust’s ability to provide immediate emergency response is limited and these incidents put extra pressures on staff and resources.”
“It is also recognised that over half of people who have drowned under ice are those trying to rescue other people or dogs, so please ensure you treat frozen lakes with the respect and care they demand.”
The Trust also received a report of a rubber dingy snagging on a post, concealed under the water, and deflating at another nature reserve.
Alan said: “We do not manage these areas for sporting activities, they are primarily for wildlife and for people who want to see wildlife.”
“If someone decides to set sail on a wetland there are plenty of hazards and you are disturbing the birds and other beasts during the most important time of the year, the breeding season. There is a good chance you will scare birds from their nests and fledglings later in spring.”
“There are specialised places where you can take part in these activities in much safer conditions and leave our nature reserves for people who appreciate undisturbed wildlife.”
The Wildlife Trust manages more than 35 nature reserves in the region, many of which are accessible to nature lovers. Find our more at www.lancswt.org.uk.
The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside is dedicated to the protection and promotion of the wildlife in Lancashire, seven boroughs of Greater Manchester and four of Merseyside, all lying north of the River Mersey. It manages around 40 nature reserves and 20 Local Nature Reserves covering acres of woodland, wetland, upland and meadow. The Trust has 30,000 members, and over 1,200 volunteers.