A leading Birmingham-based practitioner in equine law has called for greater powers to deal with the issue of illegal grazing, as a new study shows that the West Midlands is a hotspot for the crime.
A recent study conducted by six charities and rural groups, found that more than 3,000 horses in UK were being ‘fly-grazed’, a practice where horses are grazed illegally without the authority of the land owner, with the Midlands being named as a growing hotspot.
In response to the study Brian Flint, Equine Law Specialist at Birmingham-based Pearson Rowe solicitors, said: “The latest figures show a worrying trend in the number of horses being left on land not belonging to their owners.
“It is even more surprising that the urban area that our firm is based in has seen some of the highest growth in this illegal activity.
“At Pearson Rowe, we understand the impact fly-grazing has on land owners, and the horses left to scrape an existence on sometimes poor quality land.
“We are calling on all horse owners to behave responsibly and advising landowners with concerns about fly-grazing to seek proper legal advice before taking action.”
The recent study on fly-grazing revealed that the problem had grown in recent years due to the economic downturn, over-breeding and the high cost of keeping horses, which has created a “perfect storm” that has to led owners ditching their animals on unsuitable verges, parkland or farmland.
This ever growing issue has caused huge problems for landowners, welfare charities and local authorities and causes misery to horses.
The report’s publishers, which include the National Farmers Union, Countryside Alliance and Country Land and Business Association, are calling for legislation to help local authorities and landowners tackle the problem.
Under the current law, landowners are powerless to remove horses from their land quickly and effectively, and it can often be impossible to link irresponsible owners to their animals.
But in Wales, local authorities have the power to seize, impound, return to the owner, sell or re-home horses grazing on land without lawful consent.
Mr Flint, who has more than 35 years’ experience in equine law, said he would support the call for stricter rules on fly-grazing and would welcome laws similar to those imposed recently in Wales, which has seen the number of fly-grazing cases decline.
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