|The local effects of the Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001|
|2001 was completely dominated by a
major outbreak of farming's most virulent livestock
disease. Not seen since 1967, Foot and Mouth disease
dominated farming issues during 2001, affecting much of
the community to some degree, especially with the closure
of all of the area's public footpaths during the first
half of the year.
During February 2001, Foot and Mouth, was diagnosed at farms in the north-east of the country. By the second and third week, news was received that Devon, Cumbria and other areas had been affected, increasing the need for strict nationwide control measures. Ensuing weeks saw the number of cases multiply and by the beginning of April, over 1000 cases had been recorded.
"Footpath Closed" notices became a familiar sight during March as public movements were restricted. One of the first organisations to react was the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, which closed it's reserves (including the Eakring Meadows Nature Reserve here) during February. Farmers effectively closed their gates, imposing restrictions on visitors and County Councils stopped public access to the countryside by blanket footpath closures in an effort to control the spread of the disease.
A large-scale slaughter of livestock was deemed as being the only really practical solution in trying to limit the spread of the disease. Although Nottinghamshire remained free of the virus, it was regarded as a necessity by MAFF officials, to slaughter several thousand sheep at two sites, in order to prevent further spread.
The rearing of livestock in the recording area here is minimal and the small amount that were being grazed, were quickly moved indoors until regulations had been lifted. Sheep being grazed during the Winter at Eakring Meadows, were moved primarily in the first instance because of severely water-logged ground and very early lambing and then because of the onset of Foot and Mouth regulations.
Bird watching (like many other outdoor pursuits) was also affected during this time and coverage was generally limited to viewing and listening from certain road-side locations.