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Look out for new warning signs on unfenced New Forest roads reminding drivers to slow down and look out for animals.
Despite heavy publicity and a number of initiatives by New Forest organisations animal accidents increased slightly in 2011.
In total 67 Commoners’ animals were either killed in a road traffic accident or had to be put down due to their injuries. This is two more than 2010.
However, the biggest jumps in statistics were the number of animals being injured, which increased from 27 in 2010, to 36 in 2011, and the number of accidents the Agisters attended which increased from 161 to 174.
Bob Morris, New Forest National Park Authority Member, said:
"We are extremely disappointed that there has been an increase in animal accidents. The number of accidents in 2010 was the lowest on record. This year there has been a rise in casualty rates of pigs, donkeys and sheep and 35 of these accidents happened in daylight. We are working very closely with Hampshire County Council which is putting new signs up to try and reduce these accidents."
Hampshire County Councillor Mel Kendall, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said:
"Drivers on the high risk route between Lymington and Dibden Purlieu will soon be greeted with the new message ’67 animal deaths last year’ on the signs which change four times a year.
"Early indications are that the slogans used so far on this road such as ‘pass slow and wide’ and ‘ponies don’t dent they die’ are working, since the accident rate on this road was lower than in other parts of the Forest."
"It is disappointing to realise that 75 of the accidents in 2010 were by local drivers who should have known better," said Sue Westwood, Chair of the Animal Accident Reduction Group.
"It is the law to report all accidents within 24 hours; however 31 accidents were not reported last year. Not only is this distressing for the injured animal but also for the Agisters who work long hours in often distressing circumstances. It is their job to track the animal and often end its suffering."
Graham Ferris, Chairman of the Commoners Defence Association said:
"The Commoners animals are vital to the New Forest since their grazing keeps the Forest the way we have all come to appreciate. The animals have right of way and don’t understand that cars are dangerous, so people should drive carefully to avoid unnecessary accidents."
If you are unsure of what to do if you witness or are involved in an accident involving a pony, donkey, cow, pig or sheep look out for an animal accident hotline card that tells you who to call.
Cards are available from garages and Local Information Points across the New Forest. To stock the cards contact the New Forest National Park Authority firstname.lastname@example.org..uk.
For more information on how New Forest organisations are working together to reduce accidents visitwww.newforestnpa.gov.uk/animal-accidents.