THE owner of two sheep mutilated in a horrific hit-and-run incident on Monday evening has called for better signage on New Forest roads.
The animals, which were discovered on the B3079 just outside Bramshaw Church at around 9.45pm, were owned by local farmer and commoner Sarah Harrison.
She said: “The first sheep was hit at such a speed that its stomach split open so it probably died almost instantly but it looks like the second animal had a broken back and legs so it would have suffered.
“I just don’t know what is wrong with people – I just can’t understand how anyone could hit an animal and then leave it to die in that state. There used to be signs on all the cattle grids warning people that animals roam freely on the roads day and night – I think that having those back would help.
“People seem to think driving round an animal is like overtaking a parked car – they are not robots they are alive and unpredictable.”
The sheep were found by Anna Maria Anderson, who lives in Nomansland. She said: “The scene I came across on my own late at night can only be described as horrific – not just one but two sheep had obviously been hit at high speed and left in a disgusting state to die in the middle of the road.”
The sheep, which were part of a larger herd which regularly graze in that area, had been struck on a bend in the road by a vehicle travelling from the Landford direction.
“I was driving fairly slowly so I saw the sheep straight away and realised that they couldn’t be asleep like that,” said Anna-Maria “I stopped and put my hazard lights on and I thought I’ll have to try and move them out of the road.”
Anna-Maria continued: “I just don’t know how anyone can leave an animal which was clearly in pain in that kind of state. It was really awful – we were trying to get hold of the agister but there was no phone signal. Eventually we managed to contact the owners.”
“The sheep are part of quite a large flock that are often milling around in that area or trotting down the road. Anyone who is using the Forest roads at night should be aware and vigilant for animals.
“There is quite a blind bend in that part of the road but there are very often donkeys there as well – if people were driving at the right speed there would have been time to slow down and stop.”
Anna-Maria, who works as a groom at a local farm, also spoke of her relief that her young son was not in the car at the time. “In my job I’m used to animals coming and going as it is part of rural life – but it’s absolutely awful to think of the unnecessary pain those sheep went through. I keep thinking about what it would have been like if any elderly person or a new driver had come across them like that – it was really horrific.
“The driver who hit them must have been going very, very quickly as they obviously had no chance to slow down.”
Fiona Lenherr, who arrived at the scene with her husband David seconds after Anna-Maria, said: “Hit-and-run is absolutely disgraceful in any form – it’s awful to think of the suffering those poor animals endured, and it was very upsetting for their owner.
“We are so privileged to live in the wonderful New Forest and it is an absolute joy to see the ponies and cattle and sheep and pigs out grazing on the Forest just as they have done for hundreds of years.
“Anyone who is driving that quickly is completely abusing the privilege of living in this wonderful place. Whoever did this must have ploughed straight into them – it would have been a hell of a bump.”
In the only other accident reported to the verderers last week, a bay filly sustained a broken leg after being hit by a vehicle at Robins Bush at Stoney Cross South at around 6.50am on Sunday morning. It had to be destroyed.