Twice the number of hit and run accidents involving horses and other animals have taken place in the New Forest this year than last.
There have been 140 accidents involving animals in the Forest this year, 33 more than 2008, and 40 of those were not reported to the police.
“Hit-and-run accidents are heart-breaking, not only for the owner of the animal but for the agister [forest ranger] too,” said Sue Westwood, clerk to the New Forest Verderers — who supervise the grazing of the Forest.
“It is the agister’s job to find, and then sometimes destroy, an animal that may have been suffering for hours.
“Drivers involved in hit-and-run accidents who are then identified will be prosecuted,” she added.
The New Forest National Park Authority is urging drivers to be particularly careful now the clocks have gone back.
Spokesman Nigel Matthews said: “Some ponies wear reflective collars but many do not and these are the ones that are difficult to see.
“Ponies do not realise cars are dangerous. Drivers should be alert for ponies at all times.”
The figures for 2009 are an unwelcome rise from 2008, when fewer animals were hit or killed than in any year since 1956.