DESPITE much of Yorkshire being under snow and ice, farmers are warned today that spring is in the air - and that they should finish winter work which may endanger wildlife.
The Country Landowners and Business Association is reminding members not to cut back vegetation near streams or ponds or to cut hedges for the next few months to protect breeding waterfowl and songbirds.
And if they to choose to ignore this advice, they could face a sharp sting in the tail - a fine of up to £5,000!
"Farmers should not cut back vegetation on the banks of rivers, streams, lakes and ponds between February and August," says CLA regional director Dorothy Fairburn.
"Hedge cutting is best avoided between the beginning of March and the end of summer.
"Nearly all landowners and farmers will be keen to avoid disturbing nests, but there is another reason to be careful.
"Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it is an offence to take or destroy the nest of any wild bird while a nest is in use or being built and courts can impose a fine of up to £5,000. Therefore our advice is not to cut hedges during the nesting season."
"Farmers needing further information about the nesting season of individual species can contact their local Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG)."