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Stopping petting of animals

Feeding ponies causes serious issues in the New Forest and is against byelaws. Some ponies and donkeys develop an unhealthy craving for human food and become aggressive with people who, quite rightly, try to keep their picnics to themselves.

The animals also tend to gather near roads, looking for people with food, and this makes them more vulnerable to traffic accidents. Human food can give ponies bad stomach ache, which is very painful.

Even stroking ponies can be dangerous. They may look friendly but they are unpredictable and can bite and kick, especially mares with foals.

A range of methods is undertaken to reduce the feeding and petting of the animals:

  • Behaviour change campaigns online and on-the-ground, run by us and the Commoners Defence Association
  • Face to face discussion with people who are feeding the animals, or at places where problems have occurred in the past
  • Replacing ineffective permanent signs with temporary, eye-catching ‘look don’t touch’ signs and posters at specific locations where people and animals might come into conflict
  • Leaflets, including a folding fortune-teller-like ‘flick-flack’– great for schools, families and at events
  • Pony-proof litter bins carrying the message that ‘Your food and litter could harm the ponies and donkeys. Please take yours home if this bin is full.’

Commoning in the New Forest



Nigel
Matthews
Head of Recreation Management and Learning

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'The ponies and other animals have no road sense and walk on the unfenced roads, so give them a wide berth and be especially careful at night.'

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