What to do if you find an injured New Forest animal
Keep to the Rules of the New Forest
If you see an animal which looks ill, is injured, or in distress you should report it as soon as possible, giving a clear description of the animal and what you think may be wrong with it as well as where you saw it and at what time.
If you witness - or are involved in - a road traffic accident involving a New Forest animal, you must report the incident, even if the animal runs off. The animal may be in distress, have serious injuries that require immediate veterinary attention or have fatal injuries that would necessitate the animal being put to sleep. Some animals run away in fear and panic, even on broken limbs which can make you believe that it is unhurt. As a result the animal can suffer unnecessarily.
Who to contact
The Verderers state that if a collision with a Forest animal occurs (for whatever reason) drivers are required to report it to the authorities as soon as practicably possible, and certainly within 24 hours. Drivers must not leave the scene of an accident (unless it is to call for help), particularly if the animal is still on the highway as it may cause a further accident.
Road traffic accidents involving Forest animals should be reported immediately to the Police by dialing 999 (emergency) or 101 (non emergency).
If you find a sick, injured or distressed pony, cow, donkey, pig or sheep, contact the Verderers’ Office on 023 8028 2052 (Monday-Friday 9am-5pm), or the Forestry Commission on 0300 067 4600 (24 hours).
If you find a sick, injured or distressed deer, contact the Forestry Commission on 0300 067 4600 (24 hours).
Forest animals have no road sense and they have right of way. Drive slowly, especially at night, and give animals a wide berth.
Rules of the Forest
Please don't feed or touch the ponies!
The ponies are semi-wild although some may not appear so. It is important that you do not feed them either by hand or by throwing food on the ground. The ponies do not need it and some things may make them ill. Unfortunately, hand feeding also makes some ponies aggressive and every year people are attacked because people feed the ponies and they become greedy and demand more. A pony which causes injury to a person is usually removed from the Forest permanently. That is unfair to the pony whose home is the Forest and it is unfair on its owner. Remember the ponies belong to someone else. Find out more about New Forest ponies.
Learn to recognise when a pony is feeling grumpy!
Ears laid back means “go away and leave me alone” or it may mean “give me your sandwich”! In such situations it is wise to retreat as quickly as possible! A bite or kick from a pony hurts and the latter could break your leg. A child could be killed.
Don't drop litter.
Apart from being unsightly (and illegal), dropping litter in the Forest is harmful to the animals. Take your litter with you and dispose of properly.
Leave your bin-bags inside your gate.
If you live or stay in a property with forest animals just outside the gate, leave your bin-bag inside the gate and out of reach of inquisitive animals. The animals make a horrible mess when they tear open a bag of rubbish and of course, they may injure themselves on a sharp tin or become ill if they eat the wrong things.
Don't dump grass cuttings or hedge clippings on the forest.
Strange though it may seem, as lawn mowings are after all “grass”, they are LETHAL to ponies and donkeys. Lawn mowings left in a heap heat up and start to ferment. If they are eaten by ponies and donkeys gas is released into the animal’s stomach and intestine. Their stomach or intestine may then rupture and the animal dies in agony. Clippings from yew, laburnham, rhododendron, some conifers, azaleas and many other garden plants are poisonous to animals and for these reasons all garden waste must be disposed of properly and not dumped on the Forest.
Keep the gate shut!
Whether a gate goes into an inclosure, a field or a garden, it is there to keep the animals out. Animals have come to serious harm through getting into places where they shouldn’t be. Occupiers of property within the Forest have a duty to fence against legally depastured stock. That means if your fence is rotten or your gate is left open and a pony gets in and tramples your beautiful lawn or eats your shrubs you cannot claim compensation from the animal’s owner. Indeed, if the animal is injured or is poisoned in your garden the owner may claim compensation from you! There have been cases of animals falling into swimming pools (especially if they are covered with plastic sheets) and apart from the poor animal drowning, the owner of the property has been successfully sued.
Do keep your dogs under control.
Every year Forest animals, particularly young ones, are injured by dogs. Some are even killed or die later from infected bites. We all love to let our dogs run on the Forest and provided they are reliable around animals that is fine. If in doubt, however, keep your dog on a lead. Remember also that at certain times of year some quite rare birds nest on the ground and a nest which has been destroyed is a sorry sight. In spring the deer have their young and a fawn left whilst mum goes to feed is very vulnerable.
Do enjoy the forest and its animals.
Watch from a safe distance and enjoy the animals and the unique beauty of the Forest. Remember that the Forest is the animals’ home and it is only fair to respect it and let them live in peace.
If you would like further information visit the Verderers’ website - NEW FOREST VERDERERS - or telephone the Clerk to the Verderers on 023 8028 2052.
Thank you for reading this and we hope you enjoy the New Forest.