Drivers thanked for slowing down on Forest roads as animal accidents continue to fallPUBLISHED ON: 23 JANUARY 2023
Joint press release
Figures released by the New Forest Verderers reveal that the number of animals killed or injured on roads through the Forest continued to fall last year as a result of a series of spot checks and driver education events that took place on some key accident hot spots.
The total number of New Forest animals killed or injured and destroyed was 41 compared to 44 in 2021. This includes:
- 34 ponies
- three pigs
- two cows
- two donkeys.
A further 19 animals were injured compared to 15 last year. Overall, Agisters attended 82 incidents, compared with 103 in 2021:
- 26 of these incidents happened in daylight
- 13 in twilight
- 43 in the dark.
Despite the numbers being lower, the multi-agency Animal Accident Reduction Group is still concerned about the overall number of accidents, with 12 of these being hit and runs.
Gilly Jones from New Forest Roads Awareness said: ‘We are pleased at the reduction in incidents that Agisters have attended, but we are still concerned about the incidents in daylight and twilight. Forestry England has done a sterling job at cutting back the verges to make sure that drivers can see the livestock. Speed is still an issue, part of our work with Operation Mountie has shown that unfortunately some drivers have no regard for the 40-mph speed limit. The loss of an animal affects the owners – as Commoners we put so much time and effort into our animals, who shape the New Forest.
‘From pre-Covid levels the number of accidents reported has almost halved. In 2019 there were 159 incidents with 58 animals dying and another 32 injured. We have to see this as a positive and it shows that the work undertaken by the Verderers, Forestry England, Hampshire Police, New Forest Roads Awareness, Commoners Defence Association, New Forest National Park Authority and New Forest District Council, is getting to the majority of drivers, and they are driving with more care.’
Head Agister Jonathan Gerrelli said: ‘While we are down on the number of accidents the Agisters attended, we hope that will still reduce. The work done by the Animal Accident Reduction Group has helped hugely with this, but the main thank you must go to the drivers who are crossing the Forest with livestock on their minds.’
Charlotte Belcher, Community Manager for Forestry England said: ‘Thank you to every driver who takes extra care on Forest roads. Working with partners on targeted action we have collectively been able to reach many more people to share information on how to keep themselves and animals safe when travelling through the Forest. It is especially important during the winter, with rapidly changing weather and driving conditions, that everyone continues to drive safely and pass wide and slow when near forest ponies and other animals.’
Police Sergeant Carl Peverill, from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary, said: ‘Our multi-agency approach has ensured that we’ve achieved what we had set out to do, which was to reduce the number of animal casualties on New Forest roads. In turn this has helped to play key role in reducing the number of incidents that local Agisters needed to attend when a wild animal had been injured on local Forest roads. Driving conditions throughout the year change – and has a significant impact on the speed limit, especially during dusk, twilight and hours of darkness. Remember, a speed limit is exactly that – a limit. Not a target.’
New Forest National Park Authority Chair Prof Gavin Parker said: ‘The free-roaming animals are known as the “architects of the Forest” and it is their grazing which helps make the Forest internationally important for wildlife. It’s good to see this reduction in animal accidents but if the worst happens and you do collide with a Forest animal or witness an accident, please report it quickly so it’s not left to suffer.’
What to do if you’re involved in or see an accident
Drivers are required by law to report any accident involving a pony, cow, donkey, pig, sheep or deer to the Police, as soon as possible, within 24 hours, even if the animal runs off.
- Reports should be made either by calling 999 in an emergency or 101 for non-emergencies.
- Sick, injured or distressed animals, excluding deer, should be reported to the Verderers’ office by calling 023 8028 2052 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm only).
- Alternatively, animals, including deer, can be reported to Forestry England’s 24-hour line: 0300 067 4600.
- Using the app what3Words location to provide an accurate location can help to reduce the time it takes to get you or an animal help.
Photo credit: Forestry England