Significant increase in New Forest animal accidents

Pony and foal by roadside

Published Thursday 18 July 2013

Drivers are being asked to take care on Forest roads this summer as accidents involving New Forest animals have increased significantly over the first six months of this year.

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).

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.

He said: ‘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.’

Residents are encouraged to check out a map of where accidents happened last year – with high risk routes among roads which many people drive on every day:

http://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/downloads/file/467/2012_animal_accidents_map

Driving tips:

  • Be ready to stop - ponies may step out even when they’ve seen you approaching
  • Slow down, especially at night and when other cars are approaching with their headlights on
  • Give animals grazing by the side of the road a wide berth
  • Take extra care when there are animals on the verges on both sides of the road – they may cross to join their friends.
  • Remember that deer easily jump the fences alongside roads like the A337, A31 and A35 and when there is one deer more will usually follow
  • The faster you are going, the greater the damage will be to the animal, your car and your passengers - start your journey early so you don’t have to hurry.

If you witness an accident:

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 enquiries@newforestnpa.gov.uk.

-ends-

Notes to Editor:

About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect

  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.

We also have a duty to:

  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

Media Contacts:
Hilary Makin, Communications Manager, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646608
Email: hilary.makin@newforestnpa.gov.uk



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