Wildlife Conservation Group in the

Forest of Dean


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28 February 2023

Crabtree Hill

Grid Ref SO625128



We were at the top of Crabtree Hill to clear a large area of small birch. When we arrived at the first gate the Highland cattle were blocking our way through. Our rangers had to persuade them to move out of the way! We then drove up to the top of the hill to commence our task.

Our ranger is giving us instructions and he also explained how to deal with the cattle when they were nearby.

By the time we had got the fire started the cattle came to join us. The fire made their coats steam!

All the cattle are wearing virtual fencing collars. Virtual fencing, a relatively new technology, allows rangers to control livestock distribution in the reserve landscapes without physical fences. Livestock wear collars that communicate with GPS and reception towers to form a virtual fence set by the ranger. When the livestock reach the limit of the virtual fence, auditory stimuli (often a series of loud beeps) emit from the collar. If livestock pass the fence limit, they receive a benign shock. The virtual fence at Crabtree is outside the actual fencing and the cattle seldom get beeped.

We had the cattle around us all day and they particularly enjoyed nibbling the tops of the birch trees we had cut down.


The Exmoor Ponies were also on this site. They tend to stay apart from the cattle. Both species are doing a very good job of keeping the heathland in a natural way.