A new zero tolerance stance is to be taken on horse abandonment and fly-grazing — illegal grazing without permission — in Wales.

Police officers have been assigned in each force area as contacts for horse-related anti-social behaviour. And the Government is consulting local councils to find out whether additional laws are needed.

Wales has long suffered from widespread fly-grazing, with horses being released on to school playing fields, farmers’ fields and woodland.

Alun Davies, the deputy minister for agriculture in the Welsh Parliament, said: “The behaviour of horse owners who avoid their responsibilities through abandonment or fly-grazing will not be tolerated.

“I expect all agencies and authorities [local councils, charities and the police] to tackle such owners robustly.”

But it is not completely clear what action can be taken if owners cannot be identified.

The problem has reached crisis point in some parts of Wales. Last month one prolific fly-grazer — Tom Price of Glamorgan Horse Traders Ltd — was given an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) by the Vale of Glamorgan Trading Standards department and South Wales Police.

Chief Constable for Gwent, Carmel Napier, told H&H: “For a number of years, parts of Wales have experienced a range of problems associated with dumped horses and ponies.

“The problem is increasing in many parts of Wales, but especially on the M4 corridor.

“I will be working with local authorities, the RSPCA and other charities, to formulate a multi-agency response to combat the issue.

“We are putting significant energy and resources into finding out what these horses are being bred for,” he added.

Mr Davies wants landowners to report all fly-grazing.

They should call 101 to speak to their local police contact or email equinepolicy@wales.gsi.gov.uk

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (20 December 2012)