Drivers warned as livestock deaths on Gower roads reach record levels
Campaigners warn that animal deaths caused by vehicle collisions on Gower could lead to some areas of grazing being lost forever.
Safety groups and farmers say that last year was one of the deadliest on record, with over 100 cattle and other livestock being hit and killed on the roads around the common.
Gower is one of a declining number of low land areas in Wales where farmers continue the traditional practice of grazing cattle, sheep, and ponies on common land.
However, the Gower Commons Safety Action Group (GCSA) says farmers are moving their livestock from the commons in “record numbers”.
It is feared that the loss of grazing cattle will have a “devastating impact” on the landscape, which could in turn threaten Gower’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) status.
Speaking to ITV, Sam Hughes, co-founder of the Gower Commons Safety Action Group, said: “We had a huge death toll last year. We’ve ended up with a lot of fatalities and hit-and-runs and a lot of animals have been left to die on the side of the road with farmers finding them the next day.
“The commons now are overgrowing, we need the heavy animals to tread down the overgrowth. If it’s not being done, who’s going to maintain all these acres of land?
“These areas are the main veins through Gower. If they look awful how is that going to impact Gower? Could we lose the AONB?
“Next generation I think things are going to be completely different, I don’t think you are going see any animals out on these commons.”
Gower saw an increase in visiting tourists last year as more people chose to holiday in the UK due to strict Covid measures, which farmer Paul Hughes believes has contributed to an increase in traffic, resulting in high numbers of animal deaths.
Mr Hughes, who grazes his animals on common land close to Swansea Airport in Fairwood, said seven of his sheep were killed within three days last year.
He said: “We have struggled on, and I am here today, but it is getting harder. We had 12 calves born last spring and to date, we only have six left.
“The animals are here to do a job as well as look pretty. They are good for the environment and good for the grazing of common land and keeping Gower looking as it should.”
Swansea Council said it has implemented several measures to reduce road traffic collisions with animals, including introducing a 40mph speed limit on Gower roads, and to encourage more farmers to graze their animals on common land
Mike Scott, AONB Officer for Swansea Council said drivers need to “be more mindful” when driving through Gower.
He said: “Cattle, horses and sheep grazing on the commons is really important, to lose that would be a huge loss for Gower.
“It would be fair to say that everyone knows that the roads across the commons have a 40mph speed limit, it’s that people don’t observe that speed limit.”
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