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New Forest animal accident numbers at lowest rates since records began



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THE number of animals killed and injured on the New Forest roads has continued to fall with fewer fatalities in 2021 than at any time since records began.

The data revealed that 44 animals were killed last year and a further 15 were injured.

It comes as the verderers reported only four livestock accidents on Forest roads since 21st March, with just two animals hurt: a bay filly on 23rd March and a bay mare on 3rd May.

Scenes like this have become a lot more rare in recent years
Scenes like this have become a lot more rare in recent years

Head agister Jonathan Gerrelli said the reduction was through the combined work of a number of authorities including the verderers, Hampshire police, Forestry England, the national park authority and the Commoners Defence Association (CDA).

Mr Gerrelli said: “Many authorities have been involved with the work of the Animal Accident Reduction Group and by working together it really seems the message is getting through and accident numbers are falling overall.”

“The police have been doing a tremendous job and the CDA installed salt licks along the Roger Penny Way, which they will do again this autumn.

“Gilly Jones [of the New Forest Roads Awareness Group] has worked incredibly hard to raise awareness and co-ordinate the campaign.

"When combined, all these positive initiatives really seem to be bring the message home to drivers that they need to be aware in the Forest.”

Data shows in 2019, 58 animals were killed on Forest roads and a further 32 were injured; in 2020 this figure fell to 50 fatalities and 21 injuries.

The figures since 2019 show fatalities and accidents have accounted for less than 0.4% of the total number of marked commoner’s animals.

Records for animal accidents date back to 1956, when hundreds of ponies, cattle, pig and donkeys were killed every year – reaching up to 6% of the total stock.

Statistics reveal in 1962, for example, 313 animals were killed. In 1963 the figure was 289.

The fencing of the A31 in 1964 and the A35 in 1967 helped reduce casualties.

A speed check on Roger Penny (photo: Hampshire police)
A speed check on Roger Penny (photo: Hampshire police)

Commoner Gilly Jones highlighted the success of Hampshire Constabulary's Operation Mountie speed monitoring on the B3078 Roger Penny Way – one of the worst accident spots.

She said: “PCSO Richard Willams and Sgt Carl Peverill have put huge efforts into reducing speeds and educating motorists about driving on the New Forest roads.

"We hope there will be further operations in the future with other New Forest policing teams.

“Coverage on social media and in the press has increased. Going back a few years animal accidents weren’t reported in the same way that they are now, so people are more aware.”

In January the Highway Code was also updated to reference semi-feral stock such as New Forest, Dartmoor and Exmoor Ponies for the first time. Motorists are advised to pass wide and slow to avoid accidents.

However, Mr Gerrelli said it was important for the campaign to continue: “The reduction in accidents is excellent news but we must not be complacent and continue to take every opportunity to raise the issue.

“Every accident is one accident to many."

Verderers clerk Sue Westward said motorists should be particularly aware of young foals.

She added: “Animals do not have any road sense and foals are especially unpredictable, so vehicles should pass by very slowly giving them a wide berth.”



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