Sunday, 18 October 2020

New Expose: Whole Bodmin Herd Disappear Overnight - Published by The Daily Mirror Online - Missing pregnant ponies feared to have been taken abroad and made into handbags

Some of the missing East Moor population Including heavily pregnant mares and newborn foals

A whole population of ponies disappeared overnight on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall in July – about 80 ponies - mares, foals (many would have been classed as unfit for travel) and stallions – all rounded up and, it is claimed, crammed into 1 lorry under the cover of darkness in the VERY early hours of the morning. Whilst no-one appears to have noticed a whole population on a Common missing or even talked about it, I can’t let their story be unheard. 

For years we have campaigned for the ponies on East Moor on Bodmin Moor – fighting for laws to be enforced on a small area of land with arguably the worst welfare record in the country.  

With at least 3/4 of the 2020 pony population without passports and microchips any sale of these ponies would have been illegal, movement of animals without identification is illegal – as would any slaughtering for human consumption for those already over 6 months old.   

Over the years non enforcement of breaches of the Animal Welfare Act, transport regulations, microchipping/passporting laws and the Bodmin Commoners Act have effectively rendered the laws useless. Yet again the East Moor ponies have suffered – at least ponies 80 ponies crammed into a lorry would have been terrifying – it is illegal.

What's worse is that Trading Standards seem (from their statement) to have known that something was planned to happen but did not ensure any enforcement.  "We gave further ­formal advice to the farmer’s family on the welfare and identification requirements relating to the clearance and subsequent transportation of the ponies off the moor". “We are aware of the allegations relating to the transport of the ­ponies in question and have asked for evidence to be provided so that an investigation can take place. “We have not been provided with such evidence to allow us to take the matter any further".

It’s about time people started asking questions and started talking about what happens to our UK pony populations under the cover of darkness…

It’s NOT ok that lorries disappear into the darkness at 2am laden with ponies with no paperwork.

It’s NOT ok that people are too afraid to talk about it.

It’s NOT ok that we turn a blind eye to suffering and illegality and that there is never anyone prosecuted or held to account.

It's NOT ok the laws there to protect the ponies are not enforced and those who are supposed to enforce the laws are not held to account either.

It’s NOT ok that other authorities suspect the ponies went abroad but there’s nothing they can do to stop them.

It’s NOT ok that it is suspected this kind of activity is linked to the drugs trade or money laundering but there’s not enough evidence to pursue it because lorries are NEVER stopped.

It's NOT ok that owners are never held to account - for welfare neglect or other suspected legal activity.

What has happened is illegal

What is happening is illegal.

With no Bodmin pony sale this year I have asked the Bodmin Commoners Council what is happening to the ponies this autumn, what assurances are there that it is happening legally and what guarantees are there that there isn’t going to be a repeat performance of what has happened on East Moor on Bodmin.  I have not yet received an answer to these questions but we have noted ponies already gone from some areas within the last two weeks so it is important these questions are asked.

Some History...

In 2016 we publicised the mass deaths of 23 ponies from neglect/starvation on East Moor and many more in need of help and this resulted in large scale intervention with 2 round-ups with at least 42 ponies being seized in emaciated condition…No one was ever brought to account.  Large scale welfare crises had taken place before in previous years too - and no-one was ever brought to account then either.

A massive third round-up in 2016 on East Moor by the big charities drastically reduced numbers and the ID of ponies through microchipping was hailed a great success…BUT…stallions and colts were turned back out with mares…and since then with no round ups or maintenance, breeding was allowed to happen indiscriminately.  

This year numbers were up to nearly 100 ponies and the conditions on East Moor returned to hostile and totally unmanaged with emaciated ponies by the summer. 

The microchipping project was supposed to allow owners to be accountable for welfare neglect.  What happened when a known to be microchipped stallion in appalling condition was seized and removed from the moor in 2020? No action was taken to hold an owner to account. 

We were told the authorities in Cornwall were working towards a solution with the owner of the ponies.  If the removal of a whole population in this fashion this is their idea of achieving a solution when they are supposed to be ensuring laws are upheld then I despair.  We subsequently found out the other 20 ponies were taken from the moor reportedly a week before the 80 were taken.

Hindsight has shown us that ponies disappearing in this fashion often endured the most appalling journey shipped abroad (for which all sorts of paperwork and journey logs are supposed to be required but doesn’t happen and goes unchecked – more laws that fall by the wayside!...And remember the horse meat scandal?).

I have been personally promised 3 times by 2 different Lords of Defra that atrocities would not happen on this moor again…(twice those promises failed and we kept going)... We’ve campaigned so hard through incredibly difficult conditions on multiple occasions, helped contribute the new laws that were introduced in the Bodmin Commoners Act to run alongside the Animal Welfare Act, ID legislation and transport regulations.  We even conducted our own research into why such high proportions of the pony populations die. East Moor typifies all that’s wrong with the animal welfare justice system right now. 

I NEVER want to see any ponies turned out on East Moor EVER AGAIN – it and the people who are supposed to oversee it have consistently killed more animals and allowed them to go through more unnecessary suffering than any other area of land I know. 


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Friday, 9 October 2020

Chagford Pony Sale

It was Chagford Pony Sale on Dartmoor yesterday...
...Social event of the year for some...most traumatic day in the lives of others...

...We are in the midst of an equine crisis in this country and Covid has hit people so hard financially...when are these people ever going to learn that they need to stop breeding ponies??
Experience has shown us that once the ponies leave the moor any way of making money from the ponies is exploited...ethics just doesn't come into it...and many times we've also seen evidence of non-compliance with the laws that are supposed to be there to protect the ponies...we will continue to raise awareness where we can but there are still far too many ponies being bred...and there is no sign of that changing in the near future.

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