A campaign to drive down the number of ponies and cattle on Dartmoor accidentally killed by motorists has been launched - with the purchase of reflective animal collars.

A number of commoners have already trialled reflective collars with encouraging results, in a bid to reduce the number of animals killed on Dartmoor’s roads, particularly in low light or poor weather. This is a particular problem during the summer

The latest Reflect to Protect campaign funded by Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society is distributing over 1,000 collars for cattle and ponies, which work by reflecting the light from car headlights. They will be worn by the livestock at all times when out roaming the moor.

“Over 1,000 cow and pony collars have been purchased and visitors to the moor should see livestock wearing them in coming days,’ said Dartmoo rlivestock protection officer Karla McKechnie.

A cow's wears a reflective collar as a new safety measure to prevent being hit by traffic in low light.
A cow's wears a reflective collar as a new safety measure to prevent being hit by traffic in low light. (Karla McKechnie)

“The accidents happen on the fast open roads where there’s easy access onto the road for the animals where there are no fences. This is a pilot because, although collars have been used in the New Forest, we have different terrain where animals can be on the high ground for a long time and then suddenly appear lower down and on the roadside where they won’t be used to the dangers of the traffic.

People should not expect all animals to be wearing collars .Careful driving remains essential at all times.”

So far, 150 collars have been placed on cattle from the Cadover area and more cattle will be given the collars with a quick-release clip to avoid them being hurt or trapped.

The cattle are being given the collars as they are turned out for the summer. The ponies will be given elasticated collars in the autumn.

Karla said 161 animals had been hit by traffic last year, of which 126 died.

Of these 27 ponies were killed and 11 survived. While 84 sheep were killed and 20 survived and 15 cows were killed and four survived.

Devon and Cornwall Police rural affairs officer, PC Julian Fry, said: “We are delighted to see this initiative from the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society. Collisions between vehicles and animals across the moor is something that, unfortunately, happens frequently. It’s important motorists drive to the conditions and abide by speed limits. We are confident the new reflective collars will help drivers to see livestock in low light conditions or at night, encouraging them to reduce their speed appropriately and pass safely.”

A spokesman for the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership said: “We worked with Dartmoor Forest Parish Council to pilot this innovative scheme back in 2022 and we’re delighted that it has been a success and is now being rolled out on a wider scale.”

Karla is on call 24/7 and can be contacted on 07873 587561 should you need to report an incident, which can also be done anonymously. The police can also be contacted to report incidents of this nature on 101.