THE Verderers are offering a £5,000 reward for anyone with information leading to the conviction of hit-and-run drivers who injure of kill New Forest livestock.

The move follows a series of fatalities this year.

The hit-and-run scheme previously offered up to £1,000 but a cash injection from the New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society, the Commoner’s Defence Association and international charity World Horse Welfare has resulted in the hike.

The reward will come into effect immediately and will be offered in connection with any incident occurring from January 1.

In a statement, Verderers said the move was to encourage people to report drivers responsible for incidents involving New Forest livestock.

A spokeswoman said: “This is a good moment to remind everyone who drives on the unfenced roads within the forest that the animals have right of way.

“Some of the more important measures that have been taken recently to reduce animal accidents include regular cutting back of roadside vegetation by the Forestry Commission to improve sight lines, making reflective collars available free of charge to all commoners for their ponies and donkeys and changing signs at various locations to warn drivers of the risks.We believe that if drivers slow down as they approach animals grazing on the verge and move over a little as they pass, a significant reduction in accidents would result.”