Countryside Alliance Executive Chairman Barney White-Spunner writes: Many of you will be well aware of the burgeoning fly grazing problem in the countryside. World Horse Welfare estimates that around 7,000 horses have been abandoned, a clear animal welfare concern as well as a headache for the farmers and landowners left with the abandoned animals. The Countryside Alliance’s political team is working alongside a wide range of organisations including World Horse Welfare, the British Horse Society, NFU, CLA and RSPCA on this. This is a welcome example of the RSPCA working on front line animal welfare, as it should. Together we are pressing for changes to the law to make it easier (and less costly) for landowners and local authorities to remove fly-grazed horses from their land. We also want to help prevent irresponsible horse owners from leaving their animals to fend for themselves.
So far DEFRA have argued that the existing law is adequate, but we do not agree. Legislation such as ASBOs and the Animal Welfare Act are simply ineffective as no action can be taken until owners/keepers can be identified, which is ludicrous when dealing with abandoned animals which have often not been microchipped. We want to see the law change to enable swift action that is not dependent on identifying owners. I hope you will help us with this campaign and agree that for a whole host of reasons, chief amongst which is horse welfare, this is an issue that must be addressed quickly.
In September, the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee will be examining this issue, giving us an opportunity to show the scale of the problem. What we need is evidence of where fly grazing is occurring and to what extent, so we ask that all members and supporters who have been victims of fly grazing let us know. By sending us as detailed a description as you can (number of horses involved, postcode or nearest town, cost of removal) you will be helping to create a map of fly grazing hot spots which will provide further evidence as to why the Government must take action in England, as the Welsh Government has already done in Wales.
Send your evidence, in confidence, to [email protected]