ANIMAL deaths caused by drivers in the New Forest have dropped since 2021 but an action group is “still concerned” about speeding.
This comes after the New Forest Verderers revealed its latest statistics outlining the number of animals killed or injured on roads running through the national park.
A total of 41 New Forest animals were killed or injured and destroyed in 2022, compared to 44 in 2021.
This includes 34 ponies, three pigs, two cows and two donkeys with a further 19 animals being injured compared to 15 last year.
Overall, agisters attended 82 incidents last year while they attended 103 in 2021.
Twenty-six of these incidents happened in daylight, 13 in twilight and 43 in the dark.
Despite the numbers being lower, the multi-agency Animal Accident Reduction Group is still concerned about the overall number of accidents, with 12 of these being hit and runs.
Gilly Jones, from New Forest Roads Awareness, claims some drivers have “no regard” for the speed limit.
She said: “We are pleased at the reduction in incidents that Agisters have attended, but we are still concerned about the incidents in daylight and twilight.
“Speed is still an issue. Part of our work with Operation Mountie has shown that unfortunately some drivers have no regard for the 40-mph speed limit.”
There were 159 reported incidents in 2019, pre Covid, and 58 animals died with another 32 injured.
Gilly sees the 48 per cent drop in incidents as a positive result of the work undertaken by the Verderers, Forestry England, Hampshire Police, New Forest Roads Awareness, Commoners Defence Association, New Forest National Park Authority and New Forest District Council.
Community manager Charlotte Belcher, at Forestry England, said: “It is especially important during the winter, with rapidly changing weather and driving conditions, that everyone continues to drive safely and pass wide and slow when near forest ponies and other animals.”
Drivers are required by law to report any accident involving a pony, cow, donkey, pig, sheep or deer to the police, as soon as possible, within 24 hours, even if the animal runs off.
Reports should be made either by calling 999 in an emergency or 101 for non-emergencies.
Sick, injured or distressed animals, excluding deer, should be reported to the Verderers’ office by calling 023 8028 2052 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm only).
Alternatively, animals, including deer, can be reported to Forestry England’s 24-hour line: 0300 067 4600.