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Eat Moor ponies suggests conservation paper
4:00pm Thursday 2nd January 2014 in News
PRINCESS Anne sparked controversy in November when she suggested that Britons should eat horse meat but now moorland herd owners on Exmoor have suggested a similar idea.
In his conservation paper, a leading equine expert and vet, Peter Green, reports that several moorland herd owners were in favour of killing off Exmoor’s free-living ponies and selling them as horse meat.
“The free-living ponies within the Exmoor National Park: their status, welfare and future” was commissioned by different conservation groups including the Exmoor Pony Society.
It took into account the views of 18 moorland herd owners, eight of whom thought the pony meat would be successful in local restaurants, hotels and butchers while five were horrified at the idea.
Mr Green wrote: “Several contributors, including moorland herd owners, Society committee members and others expressed the view that the British aversion to eating horsemeat was both illogical and unhelpful to the free-living Exmoor ponies.
He continued: “As there is so limited a market for ridden ponies, show ponies and conservation grazers, why not promote the free-living Exmoor ponies as a food animal as much as an amenity or aesthetic resource?”
The County Gazette asked staff at butchers store Stuart Lowen in Minehead if they thought pony meat would be popular.
A spokesperson said: “We don’t ever get requests for horse meat; can you imagine eating a pony with chips and peas?”
The report also notes that conversation with visitors to the moor while the report was being undertaken suggested the meat product might prove popular with tourists.
Mr Green added: “Committee members of the Society were not, on the whole, opposed to such considerations; indeed, they were supportive of any enterprise that would provide a market for moorland ponies.”
But there was worry from some committee members that it could put off tourists visiting Exmoor to see the animals.
Mr Malcolm Westcott, a pony herd owner from Porlock, said: “If they decided this was an option I don’t think it would go ahead.
“There aren’t enough Exmoor pure-bred ponies to satisfy the demand.
“I’ve also heard the meat goes dark quickly and, therefore, it wouldn’t be good for human consumption.”
Comments and feedback are invited on the report which can be made by January 31.
For more information visit www.exmoor-nationalpark. gov.uk
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