In Wildlife

The New Forest is a unique and special place, rich in nature and wildlife, including our famous free-roaming New Forest Ponies.

When walking, cycling, horse riding, driving or just relaxing in the New Forest, we all need to be aware of it’s special needs and particularly help keep our free-roaming animals and all of our other wonderful wildlife safe and protected.

It’s so easy to be New Forest friendly. Here’s some simple things to keep in mind when out and about in the New Forest:

Keep your distance from the animals…
For both your and their safety, always keep your distance and do not touch or pet grazing animals, especially mothers and their young. This includes ponies, donkeys, cattle, sheep and pigs, they may look cute and friendly, but they can be unpredictable and can kick or bite.

Do not feed the animals…
There is plenty of natural food for all of our animals, and it’s best that they don’t come to rely on people’s attention. Some human foods can be very dangerous to the animals.

Keep dogs under control…
Always keep your dogs nearby and under control, using a lead if necessary. Do not let dogs approach or chase any animals. Pick up after your dog waste, especially around car parks, on paths and where people play and picnic – take bagged waste home if there is no litter bin. Take a look at the New Forest Dog Walking Code published by the New Forest Dog Owners Group.

Stick to the main tracks…
When cycling or walking in the New Forest, always stick to the permitted tracks for your activity. Sticking to the tracks will reduce damage to our natural environment and wildlife, especially ground-nesting birds from March to the end of July. Horse riders have access to the open forest, but to reduce any damage, please use the main tracks particularly when wet.

Drive with care…
Our free-roaming ponies and other animals have absolutely no road sense and frequently stand or walk on the roads in the New Forest – please give them a wide berth and go slow when passing and be extra careful when driving at night. Most open forest roads have a speed limit of 40mph, so always keep to the limit and remember, speed limits are a maximum not a target. 

Park only in car parks…
To avoid damage and obstruction, please park only in designated car parks, and not on a verge or in gateaways. Parking on verges is unauthorised and it is a criminal offence to knowingly damage these habitats! There are over 100 car parks dotted around the New Forest, so if there is no space in a car park you visit, please try the next one.

Do not have barbeques or fires…
Due to the high-risk of wildfires in the New Forest, please do not use a barbeque or light a fire in the open forest. Pre-packed picnics are the best way to enjoy a bite to eat when out and about here.

Take your litter home…
Your food and litter can easily harm our animals – please always take your litter home if bins are full or not available.

Do not go wild camping…
There’s a huge choice of campsites with fantastic facilities all over the New Forest, so please do not wild camp or overnight park in the New Forest.

Be aware of Forest Operations…
Stay safe by taking note of warning signs and keeping away from any work sites and vehicles.

If you need to report an animal incident, use the New Forest Animal Emergency Hotline… 

  • Police (24hrs) Tel: 999 (emergency)
    Tel: 101 (non-emergency)
    For a road traffic accident involving a pony, cow, donkey, pig, sheep, dog or deer
  • Verderer's Office (Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm) Tel: 023 8028 2052
    For a sick, injured, distressed or dead pony, cow, donkey, pig or sheep
  • Forestry England (24hrs) Tel: 0300 067 4600
    For a sick, injured, distressed or dead pony, cow, donkey, pig, sheep or deer

Always follow the New Forest Code.

Care for the forest, care for each other.

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