TEN animals were killed on the New Forest’s roads in a spate of accidents since Christmas Day.
Altogether, five ponies, four sheep and a cow were killed in six accidents described by head agister Jonathan Gerrelli as a “particularly harrowing” end to 2020.
He said: “It is terrible for the commoners who have lost animals, but also upsetting for the drivers.
“No one sets out in the morning to hurt an animal so it can be very distressing for them as well.
“Our animal accidents have actually been slightly lower this year, I think – partly due to less people travelling to work. But the last week has been absolutely tragic.”
The four sheep were killed in two separate hit-and-run accidents – the first was discovered on Monday 28th December at around 6pm and involved two on the B3078 at Longcross.
One was killed by the impact and the second had to be destroyed because of its injuries.
The second hit-and-run was discovered at around 7.30am on Wednesday 30th December on the Penn Common Road. Again, one sheep was killed at the scene and a second had to be destroyed.
A day later, on New Year’s Eve, four ponies died in a collision at a notorious accident blackspot.
It involved a black Land Rover Discovery around 9pm on the Thursday evening while the animals were licking freshly laid salt on the B3078 Roger Penny Way, Hampshire police confirmed.
A force spokesperson said: “The driver of the vehicle was spoken to at the scene and, having carried out a thorough investigation, no further action was taken against them. We can also confirm that the driver was not speeding at the time of the incident.”
Agister Andrew Napthine, who attended the scene, said the driver of the vehicle was local and unhurt in the crash.
He continued: “Drivers do need to be more aware that when the roads have been salted it does seem to draw the animals onto the roads to lick up the salt. If you are driving in the Forest at night in the winter you should be even more cautious about encountering animals.”
A speed check carried out along Roger Penny Way on Monday morning saw PCSO Richard Williams catch nine vehicles exceeding the 40mph limit in one hour. The highest speed clocked during the operation was 49mph.
Other accidents last week involved a cow killed on the B3054 between Dibden and Beaulieu on Wednesday 30th December, and a pony fatally injured on the C10 at Picket Post on Christmas Day.
They come just weeks after three donkeys were killed on Roger Penny Way, which is well known for animal accidents.
Verderers clerk Sue Westwood of the pony deaths: “This accident was a very sad end to the year for us and particularly for Andrew [Napthine], who also dealt with the deaths of the three donkeys just a couple of weeks ago.
“It was awful for the commoner and no doubt very upsetting for the driver of the vehicle.
“It is difficult to know exactly what we can say – except to just keep repeating the same message to drivers: please slow down and expect to meet livestock on the roads day and night.
“They do not have road sense or any awareness of the dangers, so it is up to the drivers to change their behaviour.”
After the crash which killed the ponies on Roger Penny Way, police tweeted a photograph of the badly damaged vehicle, which had to be recovered from the scene.
Hampshire Rural Policing Inspector Korine Bishop said: “Tragic as this incident is, this is a timely reminder to the residents of, and those driving through, the New Forest to be aware of your surroundings.
“There is a maximum speed limit of 40mph applied across the area and, as such, motorists are advised to adapt their speed to the current driving conditions.”