FAQs

how can we help?

Frequently asked questions

Jon Hawkins

General Help and Advice

Please use the drop downs below to find out more.

General Wildlife Questions

Please try to find the information on the internet first of all if you can. We are always pleased to help but our resources are limited! 

Please note our reception is often staffed by volunteers, we endeavour to answer your question as soon as possible. 

Reporting a Sighting

To report a sighting please go to the reporting page on Somerset Environmental Records Centre's (SERC) website.

SERC 

Wildlife Emergencies

We are sorry but we are unable to deal with sick or injured wild animals ourselves. 

Please contact the following organisations who will be able to help:

RSPCA - The RSPCA is a national charity concerned with animal welfare. To report a mistreated, neglected, injured or distressed animal please call their 24 hour helpline. They have a cruelty checklist to help identify the information they may ask for when you call.

RSPCA cruelty checklist

  • 0300 1234 999

Secret World - Secret World is a Charity which operates a 24 hour wildlife rescue service in South West England. It is based at Highbridge, Somerset.

  • 01278 783250

British Hedgehog Preservation Society - The Society offers help and advice to those with sick, injured or orphaned hedgehogs and maintains a list of rehabilitators in the UK. They will be able to provide you with a number for the nearest hedgehog rescue. 

  • 01584 890 801

Advice about what to do if you have found a sick/injured hedgehog

Reporting a wildlife crime

If you witness a suspected wildlife crime in action call 999 immediately. In all other instances, call 101 for the non-emergency service and ask to speak to your local Wildlife Crime Officer. To remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

More about wildlife and the law

Wildlife guidance and advice

Detailed answers to frequently asked wildlife questions can be found below.

Wildlife advice

Reporting a pollution incident or damage to the natural environment

Environmental incidents such as pollution or damage to a natural space should be reported to the Environment Agency (EA) here

Worried about an activity in your neighbourhood/community?

It may be that you see something that you feel is not in the best interests of wildlife on your patch.  Things like mowing regimes, weed spraying, hedge cutting, tree felling or just general activity that is damaging for wildlife. 

Somerset Wildlife Trust campaigns and lobbies national and local authorities to change their practices on a variety of levels.  

Please note that Somerset Wildlife Trust can only offer land management advice directly to the individual or organisation responsible for the management of the land.  We do not any authority to intervene or enforce wildlife law.  Please see the section on wildlife crime. 

Natural England are responsible for compliance and enforcement of some laws that protect wildlife and the natural environment. Find out more here.  

Please visit the Team Wilder section on our website for more support with this area.

 

On our nature reserves

Ash dieback

Ash dieback has already caused the widespread loss of ash trees in continental Europe and is now affecting countless woodlands, parks and gardens across the U.K, including our nature reserves.

Find out more  Ash dieback Q&A

Dog walking on reserves

The Trust allows dogs to be walked on most of our nature reserves. More information on dog walking on our reserves can be found below.

Dog walking on reserves

Fungi policy

Collection of any fungi from sites under management by Somerset Wildlife Trust is not permitted unless part of an authorised scientific or educational survey or event or as otherwise authorised by law.

It is also illegal to collect fungi from our sites for commercial purposes, and to intentionally damage or disturb a site that has SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) designation.

Our policy is founded on the following principal reasons:

  • Legal – see above
  • The critical ecological role of fungi and their relationship to a host of other species, some of which are dependent on fungi.
  • The effect that collecting of fruiting bodies may have on the reproductive capability of fungi. Some of these species are likely to be rare or threatened.
  • Visitors to our sites are entitled to enjoy the sight of fungal fruiting bodies in-situ.
  • Groups of collectors can cause damage to sensitive habitats and other species through trampling in concentrated areas.

 

Hunting and field sports

The Hunting Act 2004 has made it illegal (except under certain exemptions, always requiring the landowner’s specific consent) for anyone intentionally to allow a dog to chase or hunt a wild mammal. This covers most wild mammals, including deer, foxes, otters and hares.

The main purpose of Somerset Wildlife Trust’s work is to conserve, enhance and restore wildlife habitats and populations of species across the UK.  It is therefore our charitable objects that define our perspective on field sports and hunting. We do not allow field sports or hunting on our nature reservesWe do not allow the hunting of any animal with dogs on any land that we own.  Neither do we allow anyone to lay a drag or scent trail across our nature reserves. Horses or dogs out of control on our reserves have a damaging impact on populations of wild animals and on fragile habitats which we are doing our best to conserve in the already very challenging circumstances of global biodiversity loss and climate change.

We encourage our members and visitors to our reserves that if they witness hunting with dogs on our land – or any other wildlife crime – that they please notify us and the police immediately and help us ensure our nature reserves remain the preserve of wildlife.

Please see above for information about Reporting a Wildlife Crime

Filming on land we manage

Our nature reserves have been used as locations by a wide range of media. The nature of requests vary widely and we are usually happy to accommodate them if possible as long as disturbance to wildlife can be kept to a minimum. 

Further detailed information can be found below.

filming on our reserves

Walking near livestock

Please be aware of grazing horses and cattle, if dogs are allowed please ensure the following:

  • To take care, and keep your distance from the animals
  • Avoid yourself and/or your dog getting between animals and their young
  • Please keep your dog on a short lead or at your side
  • If ponies or cows approach, let your dog off the lead
  • Please close gates behind you

Pesticide policy

Read our pesticide policy here:

Pesticide policy

Tree planting on our reserves

If you’ve been thinking about planting trees to help the environment then thank you for deciding to take practical action to help nature. We get many requests from people who want to plant trees on our reserves but we are unable to facilitate these requests.  Tree planting might seem a pretty straightforward and helpful thing to do, particularly when we see many cut down for development and when we are losing some many to ash dieback, but tree planting is firstly a bit more complicated than first meets the eye, and secondly, on our nature reserves there are many other things to take into account. We aren’t able to accept individual or small numbers of trees or whips for planting on our reserves from individuals primarily due to the fact, in many cases, we simply can’t be certain of their origin. Many of our reserves are on statutory protected sites, and so creating the significant paperwork and permissions required just for the odd tree or two in a large reserve is not manageable for us, and neither is the ongoing management needed to ensure the trees reached a state where they were safe from grazing animals for example. We favour natural regeneration where at all possible before considering any large scale planting regimes. 

It’s also worth knowing that alongside trees and woodland, many of SWT’s nature reserves comprise quality grassland and wetland habitats - which are similarly valuable in terms of carbon capture for example and providing homes for wildlife, so the management plans we create for them are specifically designed to support those habitats for particular species. In some cases introducing trees actually changes the equilbrium of these places, so it is counter productive and can come a a cost to vulnerable wildlife who depend on the specific conditions we create.

For more information, read our blog on the importance of planting the right tree in the right place. Check it out below. And if you have any bigger thoughts about spaces in your community that need some tree cover, and aren’t sure how and where to start, then why not watch our ‘Right Tree, Right Place for Mendip' video and pick up some ideas. 

Tree-mendous trees Right tree, right place webinar

Beavers

Beavers are a keystone species which means that they play a crucial role in how an ecosystem functions. By building dams, digging ditches and coppicing trees, beavers can alter their surroundings in a big way – and in a way that has many benefits for people and wildlife. Beavers can create large areas of water-retaining wetland, slowing the flow of streams and rivers and protecting the land downriver from flooding, as well as reducing silt and improving water quality. These restored wetlands also provide essential habitat for a wealth of plants and animals.

For more information on brilliant beavers, visit our webpage below!

Brilliant beavers