World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers has warned that culls of abandoned ponies are “very likely” in England this winter, unless local authorities are given the power to seize horses “on the spot”.
Mr Owers was speaking at the charity’s annual conference (14 November), at which Defra minister Lord de Mauley said the Government would not bring in fly-grazing legislation like that being fast-tracked in Wales.
In October, welfare agencies urged Defra to follow the Welsh Government, warning that failure to do so would push the problem into England.
The Welsh Bill — set to become law in mid-January — gives local authorities the power to seize horses abandoned on private or public land without permission. If the animals are not claimed by the owner within 7 days, they can be euthanased.
But at the World Horse Welfare conference, Lord de Mauley said he was “not yet convinced” the legislation would deal with the “underlying problem” — that of overbreeding.
“What they’re doing is interesting and it might help — but it won’t solve the problem of oversupply,” he said.
Lord de Mauley said he had asked for a meeting with the National Equine Welfare Council (NEWC) to discuss overbreeding. He added that new measures in the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill, being considered by Parliament, would help tackle fly-grazing.
ASBOs had been used against fly-grazers in Bristol and South Wales with success, he noted. Prolific Welsh gypsy cob breeder Tom Price is serving a prison sentence for breaching his ASBO and committing welfare offences (news, 25 July).
Charities estimate 7,000 equines are at risk this winter.
This story first appeared in H&H 28 November 2013.