New figures have revealed that 25% of motorists who hit ponies or cattle on the roads of the New Forest just leave them to suffer or die.
The Verderers of the New Forest have confirmed that between January and November of 2000, 29 motorists hit or knocked over animals hard enough to kill or maim them, and then just drove away.
These motorists did not even bother to report the accidents, which meant that some ponies were left to linger on in pain sometimes for days before being found in critical conditions.
They then had to be put down by the agisters who oversee the Forest commoning rights for the Verderers.
The slightly better news is that this year’s figure to the end of November is slightly down on the total of 37 for the same period last year.
Until now 87 animals have died on New Forest roads. The animals take precedence over vehicles, and between 30 and 40 have recovered after injury.
Richard Manley, chairman of the Commoners’ Defence Association which represents the owners of grazing animals, said: “It goes without saying that we are a nation of animal lovers and this kind of thing just doesn’t add up.”
He also hit back strongly over recent reports claiming that ponies were being served up on Continental dinner tables and said: “We are being criticised over what is supposed to be happening to the animals and Joe Public is out there knocking them over and not even bothering to see what he has done.”
He also pointed out that when an animal iskilled or put down because of its injuries, the commoner has to pay a fee to have it collected.
“Staff of the New Forest Foxhounds do a fantastic job for us and charge as little as they can. But if an animal is collected by a commercial operator it will cost between £150 and £200,” he said.