Rare Exmoor ponies to help save dwindling peat bog

Ponies from an endangered breed, descended from the original British "hill ponies," are being brought into a nature preserve on the Solway Plain in England, to graze away grasses that threaten one of the area's few remaining peat bogs.

Researchers believe that ancestors of the rare Exmoor ponies may have been used by warriors in service to Queen Boudicca in the first century CE. The ponies are being imported to the Drumburgh Moss National Nature Reserve, maintained near Carlisle, England, by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust. According to naturalists, invasive grasses threaten to dry out the peat bog and destroy native mosses and other plant life. Six of the Exmoor ponies were moved to Drumburgh on June 8, 2006.

The ponies provide a natural way to remove the invasive grasses, and they are unusual in their ability (and willingness) to wade belly-deep into the bog to graze. They also are unusually resistant to the hoof-rot that would afflict many other equine species.

Thanks to David Boyes, Justin's modern-world boss, for providing this story lead.