The urgent need for a pony registration scheme on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall was highlighted last week when a motorcyclist collided with a pony on the moor.
The pony, which had been running loose, had to be put down at the scene after suffering serious leg injuries.
The motorcyclist, 44, from St Cleer, was airlifted to hospital by police helicopter. He suffered a number of fractures and police reported his condition as “serious but stable”.
The collision occurred on the road between Common Moor and Minions, near Liskeard.
The owner of the pony has not been identified and, according to a DEFRA spokesman, there is no organisation responsible for tracing the owner.
Maureen Rolls, a spokesman for South West Equine Protection, which specialises in helping wild moorland ponies on Dartmoor and Bodmin, stressed there was a need for a proper owner registration scheme.
“I’ve been campaigning for a registration scheme for a long time,” Rolls said. “I was told that it would be OK when passports came in — that they would control it. But it hasn’t made any difference.”
Some 350 to 400 horses and ponies, of no particular breed, graze on Bodmin moor. According to Lorna Stevenson, a local DEFRA vet, the lack of a registration scheme stems from the moor having no governing authority. Unlike Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks, for example, Bodmin has relied upon national laws for identification.
“As part of the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985, the ponies have to be marked — some are tagged, but most are branded,” said Eamon Crowe, Dartmoor Commons team leader.
“If accidents happen, some owners claim against car drivers — it depends how the animals were hit. There is usually quite a dialogue between drivers and pony owners.”
To address the problem of identifying owners, Cornwall County Council is considering passing a by-law covering a registration scheme, following the introduction of a DEFRA stewardship scheme, aimed at reducing animals grazing the moor.
The Bodmin Moor Commoners, meanwhile, have formed a council and expect to be granted statutory powers next year.
“Once the council has these powers it will be able to insist ponies are properly marked,” said Commoners’ council interim chairman Roy Brown.