It’s every landowners nightmare when they come to inspect their land and find that there are people trespassing on it. This is even more concerning when it involves animals, particularly horses. This situation is known as ‘fly grazing.’
Fortunately the situation for landowners has improved slightly in 2015 with the introduction of the Control of Horses Act.
The new law means that irresponsible owners who graze their animals on private land can have their horses seized by the landowner and either sold or otherwise removed within just four days. They can also be charged for any damage to the land as well as for the care of the horses. This is likely to have a significant impact on the victims of fly grazing as charities estimate the number of horses fly grazing to be more than 3,000.
Should you be faced with a similar situation it is essential that you take legal advice. Landowners who intend to remove horses from their land in order to obtain vacant possession should also seek guidance from the RSPCA as there is a duty to treat horses with reasonable care and supply them with adequate food and water whilst they are detained or you may be liable for damages. Just consider the cost of a vets bill should the horse be injured whilst in your care.
It’s worth noting that those who are guilty of fly grazing and indeed, trespass generally aren’t always strangers. Many landowners will permit temporary occupation of their land without a formal agreement in place and are then faced with a problem. This highlights an important point, if you allow occupation of your land you should always do so with a formal agreement.