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Letter: It's time to make New Forest livestock more visible

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SIR – Once again we have front page news (A&T, 18th December) of the tragic deaths of our Forest animals – this time three donkeys all involved in the same incident.

Once again we hear the cry: “Drivers, slow down,” when at time of writing no evidence had been produced publicly to say that the driver of the vehicle was speeding.

Whereas I have every sympathy for the owners of these animals, I cannot help thinking that there is a lack of will to make their charges more visible in darkness or low light, preferring to blame drivers for all ills. It has become a well-worn record.

One must realise that at this time of year one may just as well say the animals are camouflaged.

Reflective collars are available to all pony and donkey owners free of charge, but although there has been a small improvement in take-up, they do carry some disadvantages.

I have suggested high-vis ear tags which have been looked at by the verderers, but the Animal Act 2007 (mutilation) states that ponies and donkeys cannot have these.

My own view is that ear tags are more advantageous than collars for visibility and I see no reason why an experiment could not be conducted on cattle as tagging is allowed; the reason being that they are a farmed animal.

If the results were successful, there is good reason for the Animal Act to be modified accordingly, but at the moment there seems to be little appetite to pursue this avenue.

Whilst everyone tinkers around the edges and refuses to make their animals more visible, the problem will remain with us, and drivers will automatically take the blame whatever the reason. It is all down to perception rather than fact.

At the moment it is a one-way street: always the driver, never the owner.

John Walsh,

Address supplied

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