New Forest in shock after pony found dead in suspected shotgun shooting
THE Forest community was left shocked and disgusted after a pony was found dead with suspected shotgun pellet wounds near Fordingbridge.
A resident of Hale Purlieu reported hearing shotgun fire at 7pm on Tuesday, and when agister Andrew Napthine went to investigate he found the mare – a legally depastured commoner’s animal – dead in a gorse bush.
Residents were outraged and local businesses have started a reward scheme for information leading to catching the culprit – £350 was promised within an hour of the post going on social media sites Facebook and Twitter.
Lee Hulin, lead ranger of the National Trust’s New Forest Northern Commons, said: “The Verderers have informed us that a pony was found dead on Hale Purlieu this morning, believed to have been killed by dispersed shotgun pellets.”
He said on inspection Mr Napthine “found a number of wounds which appear to have been caused by dispersed shotgun pellets. Our theory is someone was poaching deer and shot the pony by accident.”
Mr Hulin added: “We’d be grateful if anyone locally has seen or heard anything suspicious to report such activity to police on 101, or both verderers and the National Trust.”
People expressed their upset in responses on the New Forest Pony People Facebook page, with one saying: “Yet another innocent animal is lost at the hands of an irresponsible human. It is so sad.”
Another said: “If it was a poacher they wouldn't use a shotgun as too noisy.” Someone else added: “That was no mistake! What a disgusting thing to do.”
By the time the A&T went to press yesterday (Thursday), the post had attracted over 160 reactions and had been shared nearly 200 times.
Lymington-based Kate Collison, who runs online gifts, homeware and haberdashery business New Forest Tartan, offered a £100 reward for information leading to the apprehension of the culprit.
Kate posted on Facebook and Twitter and urged other local businesses to get on board with donations. “The New Forest community are horrified and are not going to sit by and do nothing,” she tweeted.
“New Forest Tartan will gift a £100 reward for any information leading to a conviction. Come on #newforest let’s get to the bottom of this. Who’ll join me to increase this amount?”
New Forest Novelties, which makes fridge magnets, and Hamble-based C2RIBS powerboat and RIBs hire were quick to follow, with Ian Winson from C2RIBS posting: “Following the despicable shooting of one of the ponies, companies are starting to offer a reward leading to conviction of the criminal(s)”.
Kate told the A&T: “Since I posted it four or five businesses got on board and retweeted and £350 has been pledged in an hour.
“It’s horrific and the Forest community is not going to put up with it.
“I have no idea how to get the money to the police but it will happen – we are not going just to stand by and let this happen. It needs to be nipped in the bud.”
New Forest Commoners’ Defence Association tweeted: “Very distressing to hear reports of a commoner’s pony shot dead, thought to have been by poachers. Anyone with information please contact the police.”
Yesterday morning the Verderers were reluctant to comment on the incident because they had not yet spoken in detail about it to the police.
But a spokesperson said they were unhappy it had already been shared on social media, potentially even before the pony’s owner knew what had happened.
“The most I can say at the moment is that it’s very worrying and upsetting, and downright stupid to be discharging a firearm at night.”