REWARDS totalling almost £10,000 have been paid to people who helped convict hit-and-run drivers who left animals to die on New Forest roads.

Payments of up to £5,000 are available to witnesses whose evidence secures the conviction of motorists who fail to report accidents involving free-roaming animals.

Some animals are killed instantly but others endure hours of agony before they are found and put out of their misery.

New Forest Post:

The reward scheme is run by the New Forest Verderers in partnership with the Commoners' Defence Association and the New Forest Pony and Cattle Breeding Society.

Details of the latest pay-outs were announced by the Official Verderer, Lord Manners.

Speaking at a recent meeting of the Verderers Court he said a driver who failed to stop after hitting a pony had been banned from the roads for six months.

The motorist was convicted of failing to stop after the collision on the B3078 Roger Penny Way, which links Brook and Godshill.

The pony was so badly injured it had to be humanely destroyed by one of the agisters employed by the Verderers.

New Forest Post:

Describing the hit-and-run as “an appalling act of cruelty” Lord Manners said the driver was also fined £1,000 and told to pay costs of £410.

He added: "This conviction was made possible by information provided by another motorist.

"In this instance, we will be paying the full amount of £5,000 to the witness, who provided the information that led to the conviction of the driver responsible.”

In February a reward of £4,000 was paid to a witness following another hit-and-run accident involving an animal.

Lord Manners said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Commoners' Defence Association and the Pony Society as this scheme would not be possible without their support.”

One of the most recent hit-and-run accidents involved a piglet that was hit by a vehicle at Emery Down.

As reported in the Daily Echo the accident happened shortly after the start of the annual pannage season, when pigs are turned out to eat acorns that are poisonous to ponies and cattle.