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Wednesday, 19 January 2011

New Forest: Record low for animal accidents

Animal accidents last year on New Forest roads were the lowest since records began in 1956.

Last year 65 commoners’ animals (ponies, pigs, cattle and donkeys) were killed and 27 were injured; compared to 10 years ago, when there were 89 animal deaths and 31 injuries.

The New Forest National Park Authority, Verderers, Forestry Commission, New Forest District Council, Hampshire County Council, Police and the Commoners’ Defence Association have been working hard on a number of partnership initiatives that include; targeting speed hotspots, enforcement notices, publicity, portable signs placed at the site of an accident and verge clearance.

Nigel Matthews, Head of Visitor and Recreation Services said: ‘It is good news that animal deaths are at their lowest since records began, however, this is still too many. We won’t be complacent and we know there is still a lot of work to be done.

‘To further reduce accidents, two new schemes are currently being trialled: pinch points at South Weirs in Brockenhurst and new changing signage on the B3054.

‘Most accidents occur at night, drivers need to be careful especially when blinded by oncoming traffic. When a pony is near the road, a driver should slow down and give it a wide berth, as it may step out onto the road without warning.’

Oliver Crosthwaite Eyre added: ‘We would like to thank all the organisations that have worked with us, to help lower the number of animal accidents on the Forest’s roads.

‘Animal accidents are a serious issue, the Agisters work long hours often in distressing circumstances, especially when an accident goes unreported. Although we are glad to see a reduction in animal deaths, we still want to remind people to drive sensibly and slow down when they pass Forest livestock.’

If you are unsure of what to do if you witness or are involved in an accident involving a pony, donkey, cow, pig or sheep please email enquiries@newforestnpa.gov.uk for an animal accident ‘hotline’ card that tells you who to call. For more information on how New Forest organisations are working to reduce accidents visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/animal_accidents

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