CAMPAIGNERS striving to cut the number of animal accidents in the New Forest are focusing their efforts on four high-risk roads.

Statistics compiled over the past five years have revealed the times and locations at which the Forest’s free-roaming animals are most at risk.

Many of the collisions occur between sunset and 11pm, which means injured ponies are often not found until the next day.

The worst roads are the B3078/79 from Cadnam to Godshill, the B3054 from Lymington to Dibden Purlieu, the C10 from Picket Post to Holmsley and the B3055 from Brockenhurst to Sway.

The New Forest National Park Authority (NPA) says seven in ten animal accidents take place on the four routes.

Now the NPA has published a map showing the distribution of collisions and providing motorists with a “stark visual reminder” of the need to be particularly careful when driving after dark.

Other measures are also being taken in a bid to cut the carnage, including the increased use of a police speed camera van.

Reflective warning signs will be installed on high-risk routes and social media will be used to encourage people driving home in the dark to take extra care.

A total of 63 animals were killed on Forest roads last year, an increase of 13% on 2017.

Nigel Matthews, head of recreation management and learning at the NPA, said the long-term trend was downwards and described the recent increase as disappointing.

Jonathan Gerrelli is one of the agisters who are often called out to accidents involving animals.

He said: “The analysis we’ve done shows very clearly that most accidents happen in darkness during the evenings, when traffic is busiest, and therefore during the winter months when nights are longer.”

Dr Tony Hockley is chairman of the Commoners’ Defence Association,

said: “We hope all drivers will check out the new map and remember which routes are most dangerous. It adds just a few minutes to a Forest journey to drive a little more slowly and carefully on these roads.

“Every animal matters to its owners, and to all of us who value the New Forest as a special open landscape.”

Last year silhouettes showing the number of animals killed were displayed in villages and the reward for information about hit-and-run accidents was raised to £5,000.