AN initiative to reduce the number of animals killed on Dartmoor roads has been launched this week, as the number of animals injured in road accidents last year were said to have nearly doubled from the year before.

New interactive traffic signs have been purchased and will be placed at several locations in Dartmoor National Park in an effort to reduce the numbers of animals killed each year due to speeding motorists.

The signs, which are being funded through a partnership between the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society (DLPS), Dartmoor Forest Parish Council (DFPC) and the Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA), warn motorists if they are exceeding the 40mph speed limit across Dartmoor.

The signs are moveable and will be positioned at known ‘hot spots’ where drivers speed and animals have been killed in an attempt to reduce the numbers of ponies, sheep and cattle killed or injured each year on Dartmoor’s roads.

Andrew Watson, head of access and recreation at DNPA, said: ‘We are introducing these new signs to remind motorists of the mandatory 40mph speed limit. We ask that all who use Dartmoor’s roads drive with “moor care”, taking into account the road and weather conditions and within the mandatory speed limit. Motorists should expect the unexpected and drive accordingly.’

Dartmoor Livestock Protection Officer Karla McKechnie recorded 188 traffic accidents involving animals during 2016 — nearly double the 2015 figure.

Of these 188 accidents, 160 resulted in the deaths of animals — 123 sheep, 32 ponies and five cows.

The Times reported last month the death of two ponies that were involved in a road accident, which brought the figure of fatal accidents so far in 2017 at the time to 10, including seven ponies and three sheep.

Karla said: ‘One hundred and sixty animals were killed and 28 seriously injured on the unfenced roads. The amount of animal suffering is enormous with 32 ponies, five cows and 123 sheep dying at the roadside from horrific injuries.

‘I am called to many of these incidents and see the horror first-hand. My priority at accidents is to put fatally injured animals out of their suffering. Then I have time to consider why the animals were hit and usually it is obvious from the appalling injuries and damage to the vehicle that speed played a big part.’

• Pictured left to right are Andrew Watson, DNPA head of recreation, access and estates, Karla McKenchnie, Dartmoor livestock protection officer and Cllr Gregg Manning, Dartmoor Forest Parish Council

Cllr Gregg Manning, of Dartmoor Forest Parish Council, said: ‘The moors are not just a means of getting from A to B but a working landscape where the animals have right of way.

‘I am very pleased that the DFPC has been able to assist in funding this equipment. It is hoped that these signs will help to remind drivers of the correct speed when on the moors.

‘This is a good example of what can be achieved through collaboration.’

Anyone who sees an animal injured or in distress, being worried or attacked by a dog or in need of help of any kind can contact Karla on 07873 587561.