CLA East are warning landowners to take preventative measures to cut the chances of having to deal with the rising instances of fly grazing and horse abandonment.
This problem has been well publicised in the local media over recent weeks, and the number of cases are likely to increase during the winter months – with unenclosed land likely to be targeted.
Horses deliberately left to graze on land without permission are often left for extended periods of time, leaving the landowner to deal with the issues of ownership, the horse’s welfare, liability, and cost.
CLA East Regional Surveyor Tim Woodward said: “People are taking advantage of the fact that trespass is a civil matter and, therefore, not actionable by the Police.
“For our members there are concerns for the welfare of the horses, but there are also concerns over who assumes liability for the animals should they cause, or be involved in, an accident. There is also the cost of the grazing and clearing the site after the horses have gone.
“As with many issues involving trespass on land, it is best to try to prevent the problem in the first place. Keeping field gates locked, particularly those with access on to a public highway may help deter fly grazing.
“Pasture is more inviting than a ploughed field, so it may be worth fencing off particularly vulnerable areas – but you should not put up anything likely to cause injury or block a right of way.
“Although it is likely to be considered a civil rather than a criminal matter, it is worth reporting the matter to the Police and keeping a note of the incident number. To check if the horse is stolen you can go to www.stolenhorseregister.com to see of the horse can be identified.
“Signs that the horse has been recently cared for, such as being shod, clipped, having a hogged mane, trimmed tail or trimmed whiskers, would indicate that it is more likely that the horse has escaped. If the horse is in poor condition you may wish to report this to the RSPCA.”
Mr Woodward said the CLA would like to see legislation brought forward to tackle this, with local authorities moving to put procedures in place to deal with abandoned horses quickly, with less emphasis placed on the landowner to act. He also said local authorities and the Police should work closely to deal with persistent offenders.
The CLA has published a specific guidance note on this subject entitled Dealing with Uninvited Horses, which members can download from the CLA website (www.cla.org.uk/Professional_Advice/Guidance_notes/Trespass/Equine/1010098.htm/)