For the majority of the year, the New Forest is a female forest as far as the iconic ponies are concerned as it is only the mares (females) that are allowed to roam freely. Young colts (males) are removed as they reach maturity and mature stallions are only allowed on the Forest for a short period each spring. This ensures that the mares give birth to foals in early spring each year, when food is more plentiful, after an eleven month gestation period.
In recent years the demand for foals and the prices they command have dropped significantly. As a consequence, the number of stallions released onto the Forest has been strictly regulated to ensure that there is not a surplus of unwanted foals. For the past few years the number of specially selected stallions has been limited to just 10 and this is the case once again in 2015.
These stallions were turned out onto the Forest for a period of four weeks from Monday 11 May and will remain out until Monday 8th June. They are each allocated to a specific area of the New Forest.
From October, one of Hampshire Constabulary’s speed enforcement officers who is dedicated to the New Forest, will be using new speed camera technology to concentrate on reducing animal related accidents as the nights become darker.
Concerned at the number of commoners’ livestock killed or injured on the unfenced roads across the Forest, Hampshire Police will highlight the dangers on key routes through the Forest, especially at dusk and dawn. The speed enforcement officer will primarily work on routes which have been identified due to human casualties or animal deaths in the past.
In 2013 seventy two animals were killed in road traffic collisions in the New Forest, a further thirty-two were injured. It’s hoped that the number of driver casualties and animals that are killed or injured will be reduced this year with the introduction of this new initiative.
Jonathan Gerrelli, Head Agister and a Commoner said, “autumn is an especially important time of year as it gets dark earlier in the evening and some drivers may not realise that the number of accidents involving animals on rural roads will increase because of that.”
What can you do? Drivers can avoid collisions involving animals on roads in the New Forest by:-
- Taking note of warning signs.
- Keeping your speed down – It’s 40mph for a reason in areas like the New Forest Be prepared to reduce your speed according to the visibility.
- Being especially aware at dusk and dawn and keeping an eye out for more than one animal crossing the road at a time.
- Using headlights on high beam if there is no oncoming traffic and dipping them quickly when oncoming traffic appears.
If you see an animal which looks ill, injured or in distress you should report it as soon as possible giving a clear description of the animal, what you think may be wrong with it, where you saw it and at what time. During working hours you should telephone the Verderers’ Office on 02380 282052. If you are unable to obtain a reply, please try the Forestry Commission on 02380 283141. The Forestry Commission line is answered 24 hours a day. If you don’t get an answer from either of these numbers and the situation is urgent, please call the Police on either 999 or 08450 454545 and ask the call taker to contact an Agister.
A major outbreak of equine strangles has occurred in the New Forest. Strangles is characterised by a raised temperature, depression, discharge from the nose and swollen head and neck glands, which often become abscesses. Some ponies recover quickly when the disease is mild, causing only a slight nasal discharge, with no rise in temperature or swollen glands but some become very ill for several days even taking 3 to 4 weeks to make a full recovery, and a few may even die.
As the disease is highly contagious annual drifts (round ups) in the Burley area scheduled for 7 and 14 September have been cancelled as has one of the autumn pony sales at Beaulieu Road sales yard which was due to take place on 18 September.
The 2014 Pannage season has been announced and is to run from 20th September to 23 November.
Pannage (or mast) is one of the ancient common rights still practiced on the New Forest. It generally lasts for 60 days and plays a role the Forest’s management. Acorns are poisonous in large quantities to cattle and New Forest ponies on whom they have a progressive and irreversible effect and each year there are fatalities as a result. By releasing the domestic pigs, who are immune to acorn poisoning, out into the woodland they can feast on high quantities of acorns and help prevent the ponies and cattle from eating them. Pigs fattened in this way are sold as “Pannage Pork”
Watch out for those pigs!
Welcome to the Real New Forest Guide – this is a new website currently under construction.
The website is maintained and funded by people who live in and love the New Forest. It’s aim is to strip away the gloss and superficial approach of some of the official New Forest sites and tell you the facts that you really ought to know about this truly unique area of the UK that has survived for centuries.
We hope you enjoy it and find it informative.