FOUR-LEGGED residents have finally been settled into their new home – despite an unfriendly welcome from protestors.
Three wild Exmoor ponies were released onto Cleadon Hills Nature Reserve this afternoon as part of the council’s conservation grazing scheme.
The trial will see the beasts roaming a section of the hills until Easter, then, if all goes well, they will be brought back again in November for another few months.
However, as sisters Maggie and Meggie, along with Hairbell, made themselves comfortable in their new surroundings about a dozen people turned out in protest.
Led by Coun Jeff Milburn, Cleadon and East Boldon’s Tory representative, the protesters said they were worried about the ponies’ safety and for that of the dog walkers in the area.
But Juliet Rogers, chairwoman of the Moorland Mousie Trust, who own the ponies, was stunned by the negativity.
She said: “We provided ponies to more than 100 areas, and have been doing so for the last 13 years.
“This is the first time we’ve ever had any problems like this, I am very surprised.
“People will soon see how beautiful they are, and how, if left alone they won’t be a bit of bother.
“But the success of this scheme all boil down to whether or not the ponies will be left alone.”
Within minutes of their release the trio were soon grazing, which is part of the council’s a cost-effective plan for them to maintin thee grass, gorse, soft rush brambles and thistles, in the area.
But Coun Milburn is still adamant that the scheme is a bad idea.
He added: “Well, despite all of the opposition, the ponies have arrives, and I don’t think it’s going to do any good at all.
“Already they have attracted a lot of attention, and I am fearful for their safety.”