Petition launched to save Dartmoor ponies from ‘extinction’ after DEFRA further restricts commoners

Petition launched to save Dartmoor ponies from ‘extinction’ after new rules introduced

The petition, titled Save the Dartmoor Hill Pony, was launched by concerned campaigners.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/petition-launched-save-dartmoor-ponies-32366117

Over 100,000 signatories are calling on the government to halt the decline in the number of ponies that have freely roamed for centuries. Natural England has recently introduced new rules on the moorland

The petition, titled Save the Dartmoor Hill Pony, was launched by concerned campaigners.

A petition has been launched to save the famous Dartmoor ponies – which campaigners claim are at risk of ”extinction”, and some are asking ‘are Extinction Rebellion interested?’

Nearly 100,000 signatures are calling on the government to halt the decline in the number of ponies that have freely roamed for centuries. Figures show 20 years ago there were 7,000 Dartmoor Hill ponies roaming free on Dartmoor in Devon – today there are only 1,000.

Natural England has introduced new rules on the moorland – which mean farmers will now have to pay for grazing the ponies on common land. But a petition launched by Joceline Hibbs is urging people to save the Dartmoor hill ponies from ”extinction”. Joceline said: “The DoDo became extinct through no fault of its own, just the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“This is true of the the Dartmoor hill ponies, except they are the right animal in the right place, for at least over 4,000 years, probably far longer. Help us make sure this government protects them for future generations. Defra must ensure that Natural England do not take actions likely to result in a decline in pony numbers’ as recommended by an Independent Review.”

”We are at a critical point where it is possible that they will disappear completely.” Joceline and 95,320 others are asking Steve Barclay, the secretary of state for Defra, to make sure that pony numbers do not decline. Natural England, the government’s adviser for the natural environment, has assured it has not called for a cull of Dartmoor hill ponies and that the importance of maintaining the herd has been recognised.

The petition, titled Save the Dartmoor Hill Pony, was launched by concerned campaigners.

Dartmoor ponies have lived on the moor for centuries – there are records dated back to 1012 AD. All of the moor’s ponies belong to different pony keepers, who ensure that each herd is healthy and the species are vital for the eco-system. But in January this year, Natural England published details of new moorland rules that could pose a threat to them, campaigners say.

These include payments for grazing with ponies and cattle as opposed to solely sheep. Animal welfare groups say this would also mean many Dartmoor Hill pony owners would no longer be able to continue grazing on common land (because of payments and land restrictions) – and the slaughter of the creatures could well follow.

Joceline explains how there are not many semi-wild Dartmoor ponies remaining in the area. She said: “On average there is only one in an area of Dartmoor equivalent to 40 football pitches. We must not let Defra miss this last opportunity to secure a future for England’s only remaining semi-wild pony population the Dartmoor Hill Pony herds on the commons of Dartmoor.

“The semi-wild Dartmoor hill pony is native, rare and endangered, genetically important to the equine species worldwide and a positive contributor to enhancing Dartmoor’s biodiversity in the way that they graze. But Defra’s agent, Natural England, still seeks to catastrophically reduce their numbers. We ask that government, Defra stop this happening.”

Those who have signed the petition are urging for the protection of these now-vulnerable species. One commented: “It is a scandal and frankly outrageous that the body charged with protecting biodiversity is responsible for decimating it including and especially our native ponies.

“Natural England must be investigated because I cannot believe that they serve the UK’s natural environment as they are charged with doing and for which they are handsomely paid by the taxpayer.” Another said: “These animals are native to the moorland, unlike the sheep, and they enhance the ecology, unlike the sheep. We need them to maintain the diversity of our moorland, and because they’re incredible to have around.”

A Natural England spokesman, who insisted on remaining anonymous, told Devon Live: “Natural England has not called for a cull of Dartmoor Hill Ponies. We have always been clear that ponies make an important contribution to conservation grazing on the Dartmoor commons as part of the balance of grazing animals. ”Indeed, some agri-environment agreements on the Dartmoor commons include a rare breed supplement specifically for their native pony herds.

”While these supplements have to date been available for Dartmoor ponies now that semi-wild Dartmoor hill pony have also been included on to the Rare Breed Survival Trust (RBST) watch list we await advice from Defra as to whether the rare breed supplement would also be available for hill ponies.

“The importance of maintaining the Dartmoor hill pony herd has also been recently recognised in the independent Dartmoor Review. ‘Our advice to agreement holders includes encouraging them to include sufficient ponies and/or cattle during the period May to October and to also consider the option of having year-round low level pony grazing.

“While we can advise on the grazing framework for each agreement the agreement holders themselves will need to decide how they accommodate ponies in delivering a balanced approach to the grazing animals they use on the agreement land.”

The petition, titled Save the Dartmoor Hill Pony, was launched by concerned campaigners.

https://www.change.org/p/save-the-dartmoor-hill-pony-last-chance

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