‘Fly grazing of horses must be made criminal’

A LANDOWNERS organisation has renewed its call for horse abandonment to be made a crime.

Fly Grazing – where horses are left to fend for themselves on someone else’s land – is currently treated as civil trespass so police cannot take any action.

But, following a spate of incidents around Carlisle, the Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has repeated its calls for it to be made a criminal offence.

Dorothy Fairburn, CLA North regional director, said: “The farmer or landowner left with these abandoned horses is also left with the cost of looking after them, the legal responsibility for any damage or injury caused by them, and with having to deal with the lost grazing for their own stock and any damage caused.

“With local authorities already having to deal with horses left on publicly-owned land and animal charities at full stretch, the landowner has no option but to take often costly legal action to have the horses removed safely.”

The latest spate of fly grazing has been reported by Craig Brough, of H&H Land & Property consultants in Carlisle. He said: “Fly grazing hasn’t really been an issue in this area before but we have helped clients deal with three separate cases around Carlisle in the last few months. As it’s not a criminal act, the police are powerless to intervene and so in each case it has been down to the landowner to take action.”

Miss Fairburn added: “Some local authorities and police forces are putting procedures in place to tackle this growing problem, but it’s not enough.

The only real solution is to make horse abandonment a crime so that those who break the law are dealt with efficiently and appropriately.”

In Wales the Government fast-tracked through legislation which has given local authorities the powers to immediately seize and impound horses and either return to the owner, once costs have been paid and the animal has been properly identified.

They can also sell, re-home or, as a last resort, euthanase horses by humane means when they are on land without lawful consent.

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