Fly grazing, where horses are left to fend for themselves on someone else’s land, is a problem likely to grow and should be made a criminal offence, a British landowners’ group says.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) in northern England says abandoning horses on private land is currently not a crime but a civil trespass. It is therefore not actionable by the police.
Now, with cases prevalent around York, County Durham and in South and West Yorkshire, the CLA is calling for action before the problem gets worse.
“The 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,” said CLA North’s director of policy and public affairs, Douglas Chalmers.
“With local authorities already having to deal with horses left on publicly owned land and animal charities at full stretch, it is often down to the landowner to take costly legal action to have the horses removed safely.
“The current mechanisms in place for any prosecution are insufficient and the culprits find them no deterrent. Sometimes horses are simply moved around in a cycle before action can be taken. Without a criminal act, the police cannot intervene at the time.”
The call follows Welsh Assembly moves to pass a bill for the control of horses, due to be enacted next spring, which the CLA fears will simply shift the problem across the border into England.
“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.”