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Letter: Selfishness is killing New Forest ponies

Once again the front page of our paper (A&T 8th Sep) is dominated by the deaths of more ponies.

Despite all the talk, suggestions, meetings and excuses over the years, by all and sundry, the only thing that has happened is more animal death on the Forest roads.

One would consider that surely by now, after all the publicity, signs and the horror pictures, that drivers would be well aware of the hazards of the unfenced Forest roads, particularly at night.

Two ponies a mare and foal were killed on the B3054
Two ponies a mare and foal were killed on the B3054

Nope, no, not a chance.

If a driver cannot see a large animal at night, they should not be driving. If they cannot stop once they see an animal, they are going too fast, which is careless driving at the very least.

Just plain selfishness is killing these creatures, and the fact that police patrols these days are a memory means that drivers feel that they have nothing to fear.

I can't be the only one to notice that the standard of driving has gone down over the last few years at the same rate as our police are disappearing.

Speed cameras would be useless in the Forest, as one's sat-nav warns of one upcoming. There is no sensible deterrent.

My suggestion is a hefty fine if the driver stops and reports the collision immediately, or 12 months’ ban and a fine if it's a hit-and-run. The latter obviously with more effort put into tracking down such people. With all the technology, cameras, dashcams and social media, it can't be that difficult.

It Just means actually doing something instead of talking about it.

Ges Brown


* * * * *

THE very compelling, well written article about the pony killed just days after her foal on the front of the Lymington Times (8th Sep) again raises the subject of completely avoidable pony road deaths.

A few days ago I heard a strident car horn hooting. A lady dog walker born and brought up in Hythe before the ‘60s urban invasion, the biggest assault on Forest culture since the the Normans, said “Did you see that? A foal trying to join its mother was prevented from crossing the road by a car driver hooting his horn as he drove alongside the panic stricken animal. When he finally accelerated away the driver behind tried to follow only to do an emergency stop as the foal dashed into the road”.

She then went on to describe the drivers in most unladylike terms (not suitable for the Lymington Times) after which she said “I’m so sorry but I couldn’t think of any other words to describe those idiots”.

A few days earlier she had told me how she had been walking with a friend, admiring the foals and discussing their vulnerability. The next day she had a text from her friend informing her that one of the foals had been killed.

I don’t think a day goes by when I do not see some incident of blatant, unbelievable stupidity by those who think that ignoring the Forest livestock makes them look cool. In fact it shows they don’t belong in the Forest.

Talking to these people has little effect, they are more prepared to believe their neighbour whose main experience of Forest livestock is through the windscreen of a car, than people who have spent their lives dealing with ponies and they invent elaborate explanations to justify their actions.

CJ Aldhous

Dibden Purlieu

* * * * *

ONCE again the tragic death of more Forest ponies hits your headlines(A&T 8th Sept).

This accident occurred after dark as most of them do. The thing is, what are the Forest authorities doing about it? Precious little, still.

We have gone through educating drivers, signage, speed cameras, etc. All well and good, but these can only go so far. The idea of making animals more visible in the dark is not really on the agenda. We have reflective collars, which are free to those who want them, but they are of limited use and the takeup is painfully slow.

Car headlights have a limited range, they are not very good at picking up obstacles that are similar in colour to the background they are up against. Identification, then realisation as to what that obstacle is can be too late before impact.

So, how about reflective ear tags? Shock horror, how dare they be mentioned, it’s against the law.

I offered a static experiment a long time ago that did not even involve the ponies themselves but would at least have demonstrated their effectiveness, or not.

Moves could then have been taken to change the law if successful. But no, I was dismissed out of hand. Too many obstacles to go through with regards to where they could be put, permissions to be sought from other organisations, etc, and so it went on. It was a classic case of ‘can’t be bothered, more important things to do’.

There has been an uptake by farmers in reflective ear tagging cattle, which is legal. When I enquired as to how successful they had been, I was stunned by the response I got. They had no record of which farmers had requested them and there was no monitoring in place by anyone.

The owners of these ponies don’t seem to care about their charges, the Forest authorities clearly don’t, yet many of their employees when out and about will wear reflective clothing. I wonder why.

John Walsh

Address supplied

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