Campaigners trying to reduce road collisions involving animals in the New Forest have released a picture of a mare mourning her deal foal to try to explain the impact such incidents have.
The months-old colt had to be put down owing to the “horrific” injuries he suffered in a hit and run. He was found on the morning of 3 July, the result of a third fatal collision in three weeks.
Gilly Jones, of the New Forest Roads Awareness group, told H&H a donkey foal and a jenny had been killed on the previous weekends, and that she hoped the picture might help bring the message home to drivers, as well as encouraging any witnesses to come forward.
“This one was found at about 10am, but we can’t pinpoint exactly where he was or when he’d been hit as he was still mobile,” she said.
“How the little mite was still walking, I don’t know. He’d been hit very much from the rear and had a severe flesh wound, down to the bone, round three quarters of his hind leg. The pictures we have of it are horrific; I couldn’t share them. Because of his wounds, he had to be put down, for his own welfare.”
None of the recent collisions had been reported, Ms Jones said.
“It might be people not knowing they should,” she said. “Common sense would tell you to but I won’t say too much more about that.
“There’s an urban myth that you can get penalty points and a fine for hitting the animals, which is rubbish; the main thing is to report any accidents, so the animal can get the treatment it needs.”
Ms Jones said the message to put out is that drivers must respect the animals who live in the forest; as soon as they cross a cattle grid in the road, they should be alert.
“You’ve got to respect them, and their owners,” she said. “We always say a forest pony has the sense of a three-year-old child, and the foals have none.
“If you’re not worried about the animals, which some don’t, think about yourself and any other people in your vehicle, hitting an animal that size at 40mph won’t do the vehicle or anyone inside it any good at all.”
Ms Jones promoted the New Forest verderers’ scheme through which anyone who provides evidence of a collision that leads to a prosecution can claim a £5,000 reward.
“That’s been paid at least a couple of times in the past year or so,” she said. “Some people have refused to take it, which is really nice, but with dash camera footage or people coming forward with other information, maybe mechanics who have seen a damaged car; it’s all helpful.
“I’m worried this problem is going to erupt when lockdown is lifted if we don’t get the message across”
“The other thing is that some of the comments on social media after an animal’s hit are so vile, it can unfortunately put people off reporting, but it has to be done.
“With this foal, it was lucky someone was vigilant and saw him, and he didn’t just crawl off behind a gorse bush to die.”
The group is campaigning for average speed cameras on the B3078 through the forest, and if this succeeds, they will try to get them on the four main routes through the area.
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