Charity calls on drivers to slow down after spate of pony deaths on Dartmoor roads
An equine charity is calling for drivers to drive with "Moor Care" after reports of eight fatal pony related road accidents in the last six weeks.
Dartmoor-based South West Equine Protection (SWEP) confirmed there have been six cases in December and two this month so far.
"We desperately want to publicise the need for drivers to slow down, particularly on the roads from Yelverton to Princetown and Tavistock to Two Bridges," said SWEP's welfare officer, Diane Wilson who attended the scene of the latest victim.
"Two lives were destroyed as she was an in-foal mare. Ironically she was hit and knocked down directly opposite the flashing slow down speed sign which states that there are animals on the road. Although it appears that the sign is not working no horse deserves to die like this and keeping driving speeds down will reduce the number of incidents."
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Mrs Wilson added: "Dartmoor Hill ponies are robust creatures and hitting one with enough speed to kill it outright is sure to damage vehicles and possibly the drivers and passengers. You get some cases where the driver just drives off and an animal can be left injured or dying for some considerable time. It is all so unnecessary."
She also highlighted that drivers need to be aware at this time when the roads are gritted as the ponies are drawn by the salt which is rich in minerals and also flavours the grass on the verge.
SWEP founder Maureen Rolls expressed her concerns at the recent RTA's involving ponies.
"It's due to a combination of things – drivers' speeds; the shorter days and poorer visibility – which all play their part.
"People have to realise that the moorland roads are not just for cars. There will always be livestock grazing close by and therefore you must expect the unexpected but sadly some don't see the dangers until it is too late. It is therefore crucial to keep your speed down at least then the driver might be able to brake in time and not injure the pony or themselves."
Pony keeper and founder of Friends of the Dartmoor Hill Pony Association Charlotte Faulkner stressed the importance of reporting accidents with livestock immediately.
"All the ponies are owned and we care about them. It's essential we are informed straight away so we can find the pony and deal with it accordingly."
Among its many initiatives, the Moor Care campaign aims to make drivers think ahead and be aware of what is around them, as well as in front and behind and to observe the speed limits.
To report an accident call the police on 101 or the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society on 07873 587561.