The public have been urged not to feed the fell ponies at Clints Quarry nature reserve near Egremont in Cumbria.

The three young ponies have been introduced to the area for three months to graze the grassland and allow wildflowers to thrive.

However, visitors to the popular site have taken great interest in the new equine residents, and several have assumed the ponies are ‘lost’ and have tried to feed them.

Sarah Dalrymple, Reserves Officer for Cumbria Wildlife Trust, urged the public not to do so.

“The ponies have been brought here deliberately, to graze on the vegetation,” she said. “We want them to control the overgrown scrub, so that the fantastic wildflowers, which this quarry is known for, can thrive.

“This sheltered quarry is a summertime haven for wildflowers and insects and butterflies and what a wonderful kick-start these ponies will give to the soil and plant life in this very special place.

“Feeding the ponies is not good for them or for the amazing wildlife in this site, which is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

“We ask all visitors to admire the ponies from afar, and to keep dogs on leads while they’re on the nature reserve, so as not to alarm the ponies.

“This way they can get on with the important job that we’ve brought them in to do! These ponies have shaped our lives in the Cumbrian landscape, so it’s nice to see them share this peaceful haven, helping wildlife make a continued recovery.”

During Clints Quarry’s history, quarry workers would have worked alongside the ancestors of these ponies.

Working in droves as pack ponies, they would have brought the quarried stone out to the lime kilns for agriculture use. Local houses and buildings would have also been built from this quarry and fell ponies would have played an important part in the region as transport.