Animal welfare campaigners in the New Forest have hit out at a "massive" increase in hit-and-run accidents.

Members of New Forest Roads Awareness (NFRA), which works closely with the police, have condemned drivers who leave badly injured animals to suffer in agony.

Some of the free-roaming ponies, cows, and donkeys hit by vehicles on dark winter evenings are not found until the next day.

NFRA says 14 people have failed to report animal accidents this year, with three hit-and-runs occurring in the past few days.

Daily Echo: Recent animal accidents in the New Forest include several hit-and-runsRecent animal accidents in the New Forest include several hit-and-runs (Image: Forestry England)

A spokesperson said two of the recent victims were so badly hurt they had to be humanely destroyed.

"We have had a massive increase in hit-and-runs. Either the drivers didn't know what to do or had something to hide. You must call 999 if you are involved in or witness an accident.

"There is no excuse. This week we've given out thousands of cards giving people the numbers to call."

READ MORE: Hit-and-run accidents in the New Forest leave five animals dead

As reported in the Daily Echo, people who provide information that results in the conviction of a hit-and-run driver can claim a reward of up to £5,000 from the New Forest Verderers.

The exact amount they receive depends on their level of involvement in the prosecution.

Daily Echo: Recent animal accidents in the New Forest have included several hit-and-runsRecent animal accidents in the New Forest have included several hit-and-runs (Image: Newsquest)

Pieces of debris found at the scene of an accident often enable the police to establish the type of car involved.

The NFRA spokesperson urged people who work in garage repair shops to keep an eye out for any vehicles that might have injured an animal.

"Garage garage workers can claim the reward. Any vehicle with front or side damage, with blood or hair, is highly likely to have been involved in a hit-and-run," they said.

READ MORE: Hundreds of drivers caught flouting 40mph speed limit on unfenced roads in the New Forest

Animal accidents in the Forest often increase after the clocks go back.

According to the Verderers, one of the recent hit-and-runs involved a pony that was injured at Pipers Wait on November 15.

Another collision that was not reported took place near Bratley Arch on November 19, when a mare was so badly hurt it had to be destroyed by one of the agisters. On the same day, a cow was injured in another part of the district and also had to be put down.

The head agister, Jonathan Gerrelli, has said: "An animal could be left in pain for hours or days if an accident is not reported.

"Even if it runs off the animal could be seriously injured, so call the police."