A NATURE reserve in Test Valley has banned dogs from entering its ponds to protect an endangered species.

Abbotswood Nature Reserve is home to a breeding population of great crested newts.

Fears had been raised that an increase of activity, such as walking and dog-walking, had put them at risk.

Now, a public notice has been put up, warning people to not allow dogs in the water.

The notice says: "Abbotswood Nature Reserve is a site of importance for nature conservation due to the presence of great crested newts.

"For their safety, and to protect the wildlife and habitats found throughout the reserve, it is advised that dogs do not enter the ponds."

A Test Valley Borough Council spokesperson said: "The Abbotswood Nature Reserve was established to protect a large population of great crested newts as well as provide a place for the community to come into contact with the natural environment.

"Historically, we have allowed the large, unfenced drainage basin to be used by the community for dog exercise.

"While it may look like the other ponds on the site, its purpose is to manage surface water, and by allowing people to use this body of water it has helped to protect the five newt ponds, which are all fenced.

"However, this can still create some disturbance to wildlife, affecting the important protection work going on at the site.

"As a result, we have made the decision to install signage advising people not to allow their dogs in the water.

"We hope our visitors understand the reason for this decision and by following this advice it will help the site and its wildlife to thrive."