Frequently asked questions/guidance on the issues of trespassing horses.

It should be noted that this information is supplied to assist land owners to lawfully deal with what is a civil manner, police do not have any powers to act or legislation to cover trespassing on private land.

Further information can be found on the internet of via some of the Horse Welfare charities.

1) Horses have been placed on land which I own and without my permission.
Make enquiries with neighbours or locals to try and ascertain who owns the animals. If the person is located and you feel able to approach them, ask them to remove their animals.

2) I do not know who the owners are or do not want to approach them directly.
Under the Animals Act 1971 you as the land owner can take civil action to have the animals detained and then removed after a period of fourteen days. You must put notices up stating your intentions and advising owners to remove their livestock. Appropriate guidance and notices can be found at www.newc.co.uk and searching under abandonment.

3) Do I have to tell anyone that I am taking this action?
You must inform your local police within 48 hours of taking the above action i.e. putting the notices up and seizing the animals. You simply have to inform police to cover your responsibilities under the legislation.

4) Will the police do anything?
Police will record your intentions/actions but do not have any powers to assist you unless you have an actual incident where you feel it necessary to call us. Police will attend to Prevent a breach of the peace should you have an actual problems with the owners on your land, but will be limited in powers unless an actual crime occurs.

5) What happens once I put the notices up?
Once notices go up you are effectively telling the owners that you have detained the animals until such time they are claimed or the period of fourteen days has passed, when the animals will be classed as abandoned. You must be aware that you are legally taking over the care and control of these animals for that period, but you do not have legal ownership of them. You need to make sure their needs are met for the duration of the time seized i.e. water supply.

6) My field does not have a water supply, what happens if this is not available?
Any concerns regarding the welfare of the animals needs to be raised with the RSPCA who can be contacted on 0300 1234 999 regarding the welfare of the animal or 0300 1234 555 for advice. The RSPCA also has some powers to leave notices regarding ownership/welfare which can assist them in locating an owner.

7) What happens after the fourteen days?
Once this period is passed you are allowed to dispose of the animals as appropriate and claim any incurred costs if any money is raised.

The internet has various sites to address issues around abandoned or trespassing animals, including Bailiffs (Equine Bailiffs) who may be able to assist in the detention and removal of the livestock. The NFU should also be able to offer advice if requested.
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Assigned review date:
20/05/2014

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