An operation to passport and microchip ponies on the Bodmin Moor has been hailed as a 'great success' after more than 160 ponies were rounded up.
The project, developed by Redwings Horse Sanctuary in collaboration with the Bodmin Moor Commons Council, came about after a number of unidentified ponies were being abandoned or illegally grazed on areas of the Moor.
This overcrowding (in particular a high population of stallions), coupled with poor grazing as a result of adverse weather conditions, has made life for the ponies on the moor particularly difficult.
The project makes it possible to distinguish which ponies are legally and illegally grazed, while also assess the health and condition of the ponies. The ponies on the Moor are largely feral and unhandled so all those rounded up received a full health check and worming.
In total, over 160 ponies were rounded up for processing during the operation. Sixteen unclaimed ponies – some of which required urgent veterinary attention and others whose condition is such that they will not survive the winter – were rescued from the Moor and brought back to Redwings. The Mare and Foal Sanctuary and the RSPCA also offered homes to ponies, and pledges for more homes were made by Bransby Horses and Blue Cross.
Redwings Head of Welfare and Behaviour, Nic de Brauwere, said: "The fundamental aim of this project was to formally identify the ponies of owners who have rights to graze on the Moor through microchipping and issuing passports.
"This safeguards the future of the ponies both by ensuring all the owners adhere to their responsibilities to their animals’ care and by preventing any unscrupulous individuals seeing the Moor as a dumping ground or opportunity to fly-graze their horses."