Additional powers to deal with fly-grazing
Fly-grazing is when a horse owner illegally grazes or abandons their horse(s) on public or private land. The Government estimates that as many as 3,000 horses are thought to be illegally fly-grazing across the country. These horses not only present a risk to public safety but also cause damage to land, crops and fencing. Furthermore, it costs money and takes someone’s time to provide for their welfare and safety.
The Control of Horses Act 2015 came into force on 26th May 2015 with the intention of improving rural communities. It provides landowners in England with additional powers to deal with horses grazing unlawfully on their land quickly and efficiently.
Under the new law, if a horse has been abandoned on your land the following applies:
• Within the first 24 hour period you should inform the police and the owner (if known) that you believe that the horse has been abandoned and that you have detained the horse under the 2015 Act.
• Although not a legal requirement it is recommended that you display an abandonment notice near the land in question including the time, date and your contact details.
• The owner has the right to claim back the horse within 4 working days.
• If, after this period has expired, the horse has not been claimed back then the ownership of the horse passes to you and you may then dispose of the horse as you see fit. That could be through selling, rehoming or arranging for the horse to be humanely destroyed.
• Any sale proceeds after deducting costs of sale and costs incurred looking after the horse may be recovered by the original owner of the horse.
It is important to record all your actions so take photographs, obtain proof that you tried to contact the owner and keep all documents and receipts safe.
Prevention is better than cure, so if you believe your land may be at risk of fly-grazing consider the following:
– Plough unused fields
– Remove water troughs
– Keep gates padlocked
– Contact your insurance company and ask if they cover fly-grazing
– Keep records of land ownership
– If renting out your land ensure that you have a written agreement between you and the horse owner.