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19 July 2013, 12:37
There's been a big rise in the number of animals being hit by cars on roads in the New Forest.
From January to June, 67 accidents were reported (compared to 40 in the same period in 2012) and 41 animals were killed or injured (compared to 24 last year), and drivers are being asked to take care on Forest roads this summer.
This increase is against the overall trend in recent years which has seen the accident and death rate falling – reaching an all-time low in 2012 of 135 accidents, 18 injuries and 64 deaths.
Sue Westwood, Clerk to the Verderers, said the famous New Forest ponies and cattle are free to roam the New Forest and it’s their grazing activity which shapes the iconic landscape.
She appealed to drivers to take more care. She said:
"So far in July we have already received reports of a further 10 accidents in which four animals have been killed and two injured. All bar one occurred in daylight. This must indicate either a complete lack of awareness or consideration for the Forest’s animals on the part of motorists driving through the Forest."
Nigel Matthews, Community and Visitor Services Manager at the New Forest National Park Authority, said a number of Forest organisations work together on a wide range of initiatives to combat animal accidents, including reflective pony collars, changing road warning signs to keep drivers’ attention, traffic calming measures and enforcement of the 40mph speed limit.
"We have been working with Hampshire Highways Authority and are pleased that new signs have been installed this week – at the two ends of the B3078 which runs across the north of the Forest.
"This is a notorious high-risk route for animal accidents. The new signs will state the number of animals killed or injured across the whole Forest so far this year. As this number increases at perhaps the rate of two each week, we hope drivers will take extra caution."
If you witness or are involved in an accident involving a pony, donkey, cow, pig or sheep, call the Police (999 for an emergency or 101 if it’s not an emergency). Animal emergency hotline cards also give you the numbers to call if you see sick, injured or distressed animals. Cards are available from garages and Local Information Points across the New Forest. To stock the cards contact the New Forest National Park Authority at email@example.com.