An equine welfare charity has warned people not to dump garden waste on Bodmin Moor after the painful deaths of three ponies, writes Sarah Pitt.
South West Equine Protection were called out last Sunday after members of the public found three ponies near Minions on the moor.
They died after eating rhododendron clippings, poisonous to equines, and grass clippings which had been dumped in plastic bags, emitting a gas which ruptured their stomachs.
SWEP welfare officer Becky Treeby said they might have taken two hours to die and their deaths would have been painful.
“Due to equines having a complex digestive system, they are unable to vomit to reduce the toxic waste in their stomach,” she said.
“Equines have a one-way valve from the oesophagus down into the stomach, which does not allow anything to pass back through to the mouth. When a pony eats toxic waste such as garden waste the pony’s stomach will start to bloat and the pony is unable to release the pressure so the stomach ruptures and the horse will die.
“A pony which has digested toxic plant waste can show many symptoms, these may include colic-like symptoms, loss of muscle control, disorientation, dilated pupils and eventually become a fatality.”
She urged people not to fly-tip grass clippings and other garden waste on the moor. When grass is dumped in black plastic sacks, it starts to decompose without oxygen, emitting a gas which, again, can rupture the ponies’ stomachs if they ingest it.
“Toxic plant waste can include things such as garden produce, tomato and potato leaves, grass cuttings, laurel and rhododendron bushes,” she said.
“The best idea is not to dump anything at all on the moorland and instead stick it in garden waste bags and dispose of it in the correct manner.”
She also asked visitors not to feed ponies on both Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor as this could encourage them to wander on to roads where they might be hit by passing traffic.
“Ponies grazing on Bodmin Moor are all owned ponies, therefore the owners of the ponies should be acting responsibly to feed the ponies to ensure their condition is meeting welfare standards,” she said. “If you have any concerns about a pony on the moor please contact SWEP and we can assist.”
Contact SWEP welfare officer Becky Treeby on
firstname.lastname@example.org or 07717 311251.