Tourists who pet or feed New Forest's wild ponies face a £1,000 fine
Anyone caught petting or feeding wild ponies in the New Forest could be fined up to £1,000 in an attempt to crackdown on antisocial behaviour.
The New Forest District Council is hoping to criminalise feeding the renowned ponies, horses, mules and donkeys that roam within the park.
Those working at the national park said that advice to not feed the animals continues to be ignored 'on a daily basis', with people being bitten and kicked after handing the animals all types of snacks - including crisps.
It plans to create a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) meaning anyone failing to obey the rules could be slapped with a £100 fixed penalty notice or be prosecuted through the magistrates' court and be handed a fine of up to £1,000.
It also plans to criminalise the use of barbecues or campfires within the New Forest, as tourists continue to turn a blind eye to the advice not to light up fires.
The plans to ban the barbecues come after Forestry England, a Government agency, put out seven fires in one weekend in August 2022 alone, The Times reported.
PSPO's can be put in place for a range of different reasons. Local authorities in the past have put PSPO's in place to stop unauthorised cycling, begging and antisocial drinking.
A report handed to the council documenting the park's issues said that tourists are spotted in the area feeding and petting the free-roaming animals 'on a daily basis' causing 'extremely detrimental' issues to the ponies' health.
The New Forest's lead ranger Gillie Molland council her staff had to put out 50 barbecues and campfires on a single day in 2020.
Forestry England told the council in the report of recommendations, that unauthorised fires were 'happening continuously and repeatedly' despite disposable barbecues being banned.
The head agister who looks after the New Forest ponies, Jonathan Gerrelli, said: 'Unfortunately, ponies can and do get aggressive around food.
'This leads to competition between the ponies, including kicking and biting, and that aggression can and often is directed at members of the public.
'As a result, members of the public get knocked over, bitten and even kicked. A direct result of humans feeding the ponies is therefore danger to members of the public.'