ANIMAL accidents in the New Forest risen sharply – despite a raft of measures launched in the hope of cutting the carnage.

New figures from the Verderers show that last year 63 animals were either killed instantly or had to be put down, compared with 56 in 2017.

The number of hit-and-run incidents in the Forest more than doubled – jumping 14 to 30.

Head agister Jonathan Gerrelli described the figures as disappointing, adding that a “tremendous amount” of work had gone in to trying to reduce the number of collisions.

He added: “It all comes down to trying to get the message across to people driving in he Forest to take more care.”

The agisters were called out to 154 accidents last year compared with 134 in 2017.

New Forest Post: Campaigners are urging drivers to Go Slow through the New Forest to cut the number of animals accidentsCampaigners are urging drivers to Go Slow through the New Forest to cut the number of animals accidents

Nigel Matthews, head of recreation management and learning at the New Forest National Park Authority (NPA), said: “It’s troubling to see an increase in animal fatalities over the last year.

“Every death is a tragedy for the Forest and the families who own and care for the pigs, ponies, cows and donkeys.

“The increase is disappointing news after a year of initiatives from organisations in the National Park aimed at changing the behaviour of drivers.”

Silhouettes showing the number of animals killed in accidents have been displayed in the Forest. Temporary warning signs have been put in place by Hampshire County Council and a speed camera van has been deployed day and night.

New Forest Post: The Cadnam to Godshill road is one of the worst routes for animal accidents.The Cadnam to Godshill road is one of the worst routes for animal accidents.

Mr Matthews said: “The spike in accidents during 2018 is a reminder to drivers to drive carefully, especially in the dark.

“We all need to remember that the animals have the road sense of a two-year-old and can step into the road at any time.

“Animals deaths have gone down 40 per cent in the last 20 years but years like 2018 stiffen our resolve to continue to work with local organisations to reduce deaths still further.

“We will be analysing the full data from last year and will use it to adjust and improve our campaigns over the next year.”

Animal owners in the Forest include Ann Sevier, a district councillor who is also a member of the NPA.

Cllr Sevier described the new figures as “very sad”, adding: “Without the efforts of the National Park Authority the numbers would be very much higher.”

In a message to drivers she said: “Slow down, enjoy the Forest, and treat it with respect.”