Three animals die as eight are struck on New Forest roads over five days
EIGHT animals were struck by cars over five days across the New Forest – and three of them were killed, the Verderers Court has revealed.
Five of the incidents happened over five hours between 8pm on Saturday and 1am early Sunday morning.
The collisions across the New Forest have prompted campaign group New Forest Roads Awareness (NFRA) to urge drivers to take care.
"This was a truly bad night, and a good reminder that, as the nights close in, anyone who drives across the New Forest has to be so careful," NFRA said.
"Speed is not always the issue. Headlights and that blind spot moment between high and low beam can put you at danger. We will also use this post to remind people if you hit or think you have hit an animal to call 999. This will get someone to that animal as soon as possible."
The first incident last Wednesday evening occurred at Picket Post but the pony was not found. At 6.20am on Thursday, however, a hit-and-run incident on the B3078 killed a coloured Jenny donkey.
There was another hit-and-run fatality, the victim a grey donkey foal, on the B3504, Hilltop, Beaulieu at 10.45am on Friday.
The first weekend incident on Saturday at 8.10pm occurred at Hilltop, with a black Dexter cow killed.
Five minutes later there was a report of a black cow being hit at Bolton's Bench, Lyndhurst, although an agister found nothing.
At 8.25pm a bay colt foal was hit and injured at Hilltop, and at 11.15pm a Roan mare was killed on the B3055 at Latchmooor, Brockenhurst.
There was a report at 12.50am on Sunday of a black pony being hit at Balmer Lawn, Brockenhurst, although nothing was found.
Cllr David Harrison, who sits on the district and county councils as well as the national park authority, said it had been a "bad" period in the New Forest.
He added: "Ironically, it follows a huge amount of publicity this very week about the hazards of driving on open New Forest roads, even with BBC and ITV coverage of a campaign to install average speed cameras on some of the worst roads for animal impacts.
"It's heartbreaking and difficult to know what the answer really is," Cllr Harrison said. "If they reduced the speed limit across the forest from 40mph to 30mph, would it make any significant difference? How would it be enforced?
"Even if it was enforced, would it reduce the number of collisions? Even hitting an animal at 30mph is likely to kill it.
"I still cannot see that average speed cameras are a satisfactory solution. They are only likely to be installed on one or two main roads. There is no body that has come forward with an ability and willingness to pay for them.
"That said, it's a popular initiative and at least it gives an impression of the authorities doing something more about the issue."
He added there were "lots of publicity drives and signage", but "still it keeps happening".
Cllr Harrison continued: "It is pretty obvious what the true cause is: people not driving carefully enough. In many cases, drivers see the animals but don't properly appreciate that they might well step out, or run out into the road. Animals are a lot less predictable than people.
"It's human error, with tragic consequences. I think it will continue happening until technology, cars and vans with automatic scanning and braking systems, reduces the annual carnage.
"Until then, it is worth bearing in mind that darker evenings are approaching – please drive carefully."
* This article has been amended from an earlier version which stated four animals had been killed