Reflective paint set to help save ponies’ lives

  • Reflective paint could soon be daubed onto ponies roaming Dartmoor to help stop them from being hit by cars.

    The idea is being trialled by the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society (DLPS), which helps ponies, sheep and cattle in danger or distress on Dartmoor.

    It is currently testing the paint on two ponies to see if it sticks to their coats.

    If it does, a reflective component will then be added to the paint.

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    There are plans to use it across the livestock that grazes on the moors, including sheep and cattle as well as the hill ponies.

    Karla McKechnie, DLPS livestock protection officer, said she had the idea after seeing a photo of reflective paint sprayed onto reindeers’ antlers in Finland.

    “I thought ‘that would be fantastic if we could put that on our animals in Dartmoor,’” she told H&H.

    painted dartmoor ponies3They have now found a supplier and the paint has so far stayed on the test ponies for nearly three weeks.

    Ms McKechnie added that they want the paint to stick for at least three months.

    “[Road accidents] are a really big problem — we have got mile after mile of unfenced roads in Dartmoor,” she said.

    The injuries are awful. It is very often we see broken bones.”

    During the winter months, animals will often come to the roads to seek shelter and lick salt off the surfaces when they have been gritted.

    There have so far been 63 livestock deaths on the Dartmoor’s roads this year.

    “The numbers are up on last year and we are only in October — we have got two dark months to come,” said Ms McKechnie.

    “Dartmoor is a working landscape and the welfare of the animals is our top priority.

    “We need to do something to make motorists aware.”

    Charlotte Faulkner, of the Dartmoor Hill Pony Association, told H&H that she thinks it is a “really brilliant idea”.

    “I think it is absolutely fantastic — I would love it to work,” she said.

    “Coming up to the long, dark nights it would be really beneficial.”

    She added that if it reduces the suffering of ponies and motorists then she would be “delighted”.

    World Horse Welfare deputy chief executive Tony Tyler said told H&H that areas, including Dartmoor, have seen a reduction in traffic accidents by using reflective collars.

    Anything that can help bring the number of injuries down should be welcomed, provided it does no harm to the ponies,” he said.

    “Although some people may find the paint unsightly it is better than seeing a pony injured by a vehicle and we look forward to seeing the results of the scheme once it is rolled out.”

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