Horse's road crash death prompts security warning
Police are urging horse owners to check their field boundaries are secure after a spate of horses have been found loose on the region's roads.
In the past month Devon and Cornwall Police have received 26 reports of livestock that have escaped, the majority horses, with the worst case culminating in a collision last Monday where a driver was injured and a horse killed.
"We're getting reports daily about horses, occasionally sheep, breaking loose and being found on country lanes as well as main roads," PC Ryan Canning, a wildlife crime officer, told the WMN.
"It can have terrible consequences and so we are asking that land and horse owners please check their hedges for breaches and weak points.
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"This time of year the foliage is less dense and the hedges are more exposed, which the animals will exploit."
PC Canning also highlighted the importance of land owners and walkers keeping gates shut and ideally padlocked where possible.
On the latest incident on the A380 in South Devon, he said: "It was very sad but could have been far, far worse. Hitting an animal of that size in a vehicle is highly likely to kill a motorist."
The tragedy began after motorists reported five horses walking on the A380 around Ideford at 8:50pm last Monday.
At 8:54pm one of the horses collided with a grey Peugeot 307 being driven by a woman from Paignton.
The horse was killed in the crash on the Torquay-bound carriageway. The car driver suffered only minor injuries.
Motorists and a local farmer came to the rescue and helped round up the other four horses, which were secured and taken away.
The crash is one of many examples of horses escaping and running onto public roads, say police.
Last month they were called to a report of four horses running in the road towards the Tesco supermarket in Roborough, Plymouth – the third sighting of escaped horses in the city that week including two separate sightings in Haye Road, Plymstock.
Although 26 traffic related incidents involving animals have been reported since the beginning of February, police believe the true figure could be closer to 40, with many incidents not being reported.
The figures are for privately owned animals and do not include moorland ponies.
A horse owner from Plymouth, Henry Nicholson, was not surprised and commented: "It's always the same at this time of year. People call it hungry March – next to no grass and what there is isn't sweet, so all the livestock is looking in the hedges. Add to that the fact that many of the hedges have been trimmed recently which takes out what boundary there is. It means before you know it the animals are out on the road."
He added: "The big issue is that animal owners have insurance that covers them for straying livestock as strict liability applies and claims involving personal injury can run to millions."