Carneddau ponies: Snow-hit farmers start pony burial

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Media captionDozens of ponies in Snowdonia were buried after they froze to death.

Farmers in Snowdonia have started to bury about 50 wild mountain ponies which died during March's heavy snow.

The Carneddau ponies - unique to the area - succumbed to the freezing conditions while on the Aber and Llanfairfechan mountains.

Farmers say they have been "devastated" by the losses - nearly half of all the 120 Carneddau ponies in Snowdonia.

EU rules have been relaxed to allow farmers who lost livestock to bury the dead animals.

The ponies - which have existed for thousands of years in the Carneddau mountains - are left by their owners to wander wild on the slopes.

It is not yet known how many died in the heavy snow, blizzards and drifts which hit mid and north Wales.

So far farmers have counted about 50 dead ponies and have gathered around 25 to start burying.

But farmer Gareth Wyn Jones said they had still only searched a quarter of the 27,000 acres of the mountains - and they feared more had died.

He added that the deaths of the ponies and hundreds of sheep was a "natural disaster".

"It's not a good time," he said.

"There are still quite a few snow drifts so there's places we can't go. The higher up places we will have to leave for another week before we even get there.

"We're just doing what we can to salvage things."

The Welsh government has relaxed EU rules which require farmers to pay others to remove carcasses from their land.

As well as extending the time for farmers to bury their livestock, Minister for Natural Resources and Food Alun Davies said he had also made £500,000 available to charities working with the farming industry.

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