Publicity over cull of Dartmoor ponies has led to many being abandoned
The publicity surrounding the possible cull of surplus ponies on Dartmoor has had unfortunate butpredictable consequences.
Cherry Seage, secretary of the Dartmoor Commoners’ Council, said: “We’re finding that the RSPCA’s comments that 500 ponies could be culled from Dartmoor generated so much public interest and sympathy that a lotof people turned up at the sales and bought them for £1 or so.
“Then, a week later we found them dumped. We can only assume that generating this rather sentimental sympathy for the ponies only worsened the situation.
“The RSPCA wants to meet the Dartmoor Commoners’ Council in February, but, after this episode, we’re rather reluctant to get involved with it at all.”
RSPCA spokesman Janet Kipling explained that the BBC Countryfile programme, which wanted to do a feature about the sales, approached the society. The RSPCA advised the researchers to talk to commoners.
“We didn’t say anything other than that we were happy to comment,” said Janet Kipling. “The BBC spoke to a number of commoners, and apparently saw a letter that had been written by the Commoners’ Council, saying that it could take care of any remaining ponies [after the sales] – basically, it alluded to culling.
“Our comment was that we reluctantly agreed that a cull was necessary this year, but we hoped that a long-term solution could be achieved with a pony management plan.
“I’m sad that the Commoners’ Council feels the need to blame us somehow. We’re going to be working with the National Park Authority and the Commoners over the next few months, and will be pushing for a pony management plan.
“Our priority is the welfare of the animals, and we are as much against the ‘rescuing’ of these ponies as the Commoners are.”
The dumped ponies have beenfound either permanent or temporary homes by the RSPCA and other equine charities.