The British Horse Society (BHS) is continuing its fight to combat the toxic plant Ragwort with a third nationwide survey this month.
Every year, animals die painful and unnecessary deaths as a result of damage to their liver from consuming Ragwort. The danger that the plant poses is widely known, yet levels in the UK apparently still continue to rise.
The initial survey produced some very interesting results. More than 75 percent of cases reported involved land that animals were grazing on or near. A total of 13,189 horses were identified as grazing on ragwort infested pasture, with the figure for cattle and sheep being estimated as approaching 20,000. In more than one third of reports, the plant was said to cover at least half of the land.
Respondents to the 2011 survey identified 20,781 horses grazing either on, or within 50 metres of, fields containing ragwort. Most reports of ragwort were received in Cambridgeshire with Hampshire, Essex, Kent and Surrey completing the top five hotspots. Wrexham and Stirlingshire seem to be relatively ragwort free as the least reports were received from these areas.
By carrying out the survey annually, the BHS is hoping to gain an insight into trends in ragwort proliferation and to strengthen the argument to control it. This can then be used to encourage better enforcement of ragwort control and lobby for changes in legislation.
If you spot a ragwort near to horses during BHS Ragwort Awareness Week (23-29 July 2012) please spend just a couple of minutes filling in the survey form available on the BHS website throughout the week. The survey will be available from Monday 23 July.