An equine welfare charity hasissued a warning after bags of grass cuttings have been dumped on the moors.
The Mare and Foal Sanctuary, which covers Dartmoor, Exmoor and Bodmin, has already this spring found piles of freshly mown grass dumped, by people who they think see it as a spring treat for the ponies.
The charity’s welfare officer Becky Treeby has seen several pile of garden waste, some bagged, while some is left loose, and seen first-hand ponies suffering from colic caused by eating cut grass.
“It seems like a good way to give the ponies a treat, but people could be unintentionally causing considerable harm,” Ms Treeby said.
“Our moorland ponies have adapted to survive on very little and with the arrival of spring they’ll soon have more than enough grazing to live on.”
The sanctuary is warning members of the public of the consequences their actions can have, and calling on them to stop dumping the waste – over garden fences or in bags taken to the moors in cars.
“Ponies who eat the cuttings could become very sick and even suffer a slow and painful death,” a spokesman said. “We believe people are unaware that their goodwill gesture causes more harm than good.”
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Grass cuttings start fermenting almost as soon as they are cut and ponies will gorge on them, causing a build-up of gas in the stomach. These gases can expand to the point where they rupture the stomach, causing an “agonising” death, while the cuttings can also cause serious colic.
Garden shrubs such as rhododendrons and privet are also highly toxic to equines.
Anyone concerned about the welfare of a horse or pony on the region’s moors, can call Ms Treeby on 07717 311251.
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