Reward raised to £5,000 to stop pony deaths in the New Forest

Reward raised to £5,000 to stop pony deaths in the New Forest.

Do you have information on any hit-and-run incidents where New Forest livestock has been injured or killed?

 

One of the distinctive features of the New Forest National Park are the open areas where ponies, cattle, donkeys, sheep and pigs roam free. All of the animals are owned by commoners and it is their free grazing across the forest that is vital to shaping the landscape that we know and love. 

New Forest Animal Emergency HotlineThe New Forest is one of the few areas in England where drivers often come face-to-face with animals on the road, both in daylight and at night. Unfortunately accidents do happen. Every animal killed is a great loss to the New Forest, and to its owner. One of the issues most regularly presented at the Verderer's Court are concerns about the numbers of commoning livestock killed or injured on the Forest roads.

This month, the Verderers announced an increase in the reward for information leading to the conviction of hit-and-run drivers who injure of kill New Forest livestock to £5,000. The move follows a series of fatalities this year. The hit-and-run scheme previously offered up to £1,000 but a cash injection from the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society, the Commoner’s Defence Association and international charity World Horse Welfare has resulted in the increase.

The reward will come into effect immediately and will be offered in connection with any incident occurring from 1st January 2017.

The animals have right of way

In a statement, the Verderers said the move was to encourage people to report drivers responsible for incidents involving New Forest livestock. A spokeswoman said: “This is a good moment to remind everyone who drives on the unfenced roads within the forest that the animals have right of way.

Slow down as you pass animals 

“Some of the more important measures that have been taken recently to reduce animal accidents include regular cutting back of roadside vegetation by the Forestry Commission to improve sight lines, making reflective collars available free of charge to all commoners for their ponies and donkeys and changing signs at various locations to warn drivers of the risks. We believe that if drivers slow down as they approach animals grazing on the verge and move over a little as they pass, a significant reduction in accidents would result.”

You must report any incidents within 24 hours

If you hit a New Forest animal, you must report the incident, even if the animal runs off. It may be in distress, have serious injuries that require immediate veterinary attention or have fatal injuries that would necessitate the animal being put to sleep. Some animals run away in fear and panic, even on broken limbs which can make you believe that it is unhurt. As a result the animal can suffer unnecessarily.

Who to contact in an emergency with a New Forest animalThe Verderers state that if a collision with a Forest animal occurs (for whatever reason) drivers are required to report it to the authorities as soon as practicably possible, and certainly within 24 hours.

Drivers must not leave the scene of an accident (unless it is to call for help), particularly if the animal is still on the highway as it may cause a further accident.

Anyone with information regarding a hit-and-run incident in the New Forest, involving a commonable animal, is asked to ring the Verderers’ Office on 023 8028 2052, or Hampshire Police on 101.

The Official Verderer also announced to the Court that drivers on the New Forest roads can also expect to see more activity from the mobile traffic cameras. 

Download here a handy card with these emergency numbers.

Remember, Forest animals have no road sense and they have right of way. Drive slowly, especially at night, and give animals a wide berth. 

 

Learn more about the rules of the New Forest and how we can help to avoid injuring animals.

 

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