A campaign has been launched on Bodmin Moor to help ponies struggling to survive the winter. “Give Moor Help to Bodmin Ponies this Winter” is an initiative being run by Cornwall Trading Standards and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
As well as carrying out regular surveillance on the moor to ensure ponies are being treated properly, Cornwall Trading Standards and Defra are encouraging the public to be as observant as possible. Posters have been put up across the moor giving details of a 24-hour emergency telephone number, in case any animal shows signs of distress.
Phil Tregunna, chairman of Cornwall County Council says: “Although the majority of livestock owners care for their animals, there are always a few exceptions and we are determined to root out the minority who mistreat their animals.”
There are a variety of problems affecting horses and ponies on Bodmin. There are up to 1,000 equines on common land on the moor, which extends to approximately 132 square miles, resulting in localised over-grazing due to the sheer number of ponies. Other problems include parasite infestation, sickness and lack of medical care.
Since many of the ponies are unmarked, and some ponies have been introduced onto common land by owners who have no grazing rights, one of the greatest problems facing Defra and Cornwall Trading Standards is the identification of ownership. This being the case, it is virtually impossible to prove responsibility or to prosecute pony owners for mistreatment.
Also of prime concern on Bodmin Moor is the lack of breeding management, so that stallions could be covering their own offspring, resulting in poor genetic health, and foals being born at unsuitable times of year.
With such a variety of potential problems, the initiative is an enormous task, and Defra and Cornwall Trading Standards are depending on the help of the local public.
Wayne Pearson, assistant head of trading standards, says: “As Bodmin Moor covers such a large area, it is impossible for us to keep an eye on all the ponies. We hope that the public will respond to our campaign and help out by phoning us if they have any cause for concern. Whenever we receive a ‘tip-off’ we will investigate and deal with the problem in the most appropriate manner.”
Anyone who has concerns about any pony on Bodmin Moor should ring (tel: 01872 279821) immediately.