IN light of the ‘horrific increase’ in animal deaths on moorland roads this year, Dartmoor Forest Parish Council is urgently calling on volunteers to help with a newly launched Dartmoor Speedwatch scheme.

A group of concerned local people have joined together, with the full support and training of Devon and Cornwall Police, to launch the initiative.

Dartmoor is famous for its sheep, cows and ponies which roam freely across the 368 square miles of moorland but the parish council said that as lovely as they were, they totally lacked the road sense that many drivers believed they had.

Cllr Gregg Manning, co-ordinator of the scheme, said: ‘We could not sit by and do nothing while the number of animals killed on our roads keeps on rising.

‘Already this year 136 animals have been killed or injured, an increase of 53 on last year and we still have the winter months to go. Animals dead or dying by the roadside is not a scene of welcome that we wish for visitors to our area to see, or worse still, car accidents and road deaths caused by reckless speeding on rural roads that are often misty or foggy, so we decided to do something about it.’

Dartmoor Speedwatch is a community-based initiative operated in areas where speed is a problem. It involves groups of three to four members of the community. They are trained in the operation of a radar speed gun and will position themselves in places which have been risk assessed by the police. When they detect drivers who are exceeding the speed limit, the speed and details of the vehicle are recorded and this is fed back to the police at the end of the session.

‘This is not about catching people out,’ said Cllr Manning, ‘But a real and practical way of the community working together to stop these needless deaths on our roads.’

Volunteers are urgently needed to support the scheme and enable more roads across Dartmoor to be monitored. The minimum commitment is only two hours each month with full support and training provided.

Cllr Manning added: ‘We recently recorded a car doing 71mph. This car would have hit the animal and carried on for another 197 feet. The car would be a write off and almost certainly the driver would be dead. Is it really worth killing yourself for? Just take a few minutes to slow down. Never expect the animal to get out of your way — it may not.’

Anyone who would be interested in getting involved can contact Cllr Gregg Manning on 01822 890072, greggmanning or Dartmoor Forest Parish clerk Steve Cox on 01822 258549, [email protected]