A horse running wild on the road was killed this morning after it was struck by a van on the outskirts of Leighton Buzzard.
The horse was one of around 12 spotted flygrazing in an unsecure field off Mile Tree Road for weeks.
An eyewitness said: “The poor mare was hit by a van whilst running loose on the road.
“She has left behind her little filly foal aged only a few months old, who tried to get through the hedge to her and didn’t understand where she’d gone.
“The police officer in attendance was absolutely brilliant at trying to get the situation sorted as quickly as possible.”
Several horses had escaped from the field yesterday and local volunteers are still monitoring their activities.
Police managed to contain two runaway horses in a field near the narrow gauge railway using police tape, but it is understood they have since escaped.
The volunteers claim to have raised the issues with police and the RSPCA for several weeks without any success.
Regarding this morning’s tragic incident, a Beds Police spokesman said: “We were called at approximately 7.10am today to reports of a horse that had been hit by a car.
“Police and a vet attended but sadly the horse had to be put down.
“A number of other horses in the same field as the horse have been seized by police under our stray horse policy and will be rehomed unless the owners come forward.”
An RSPCA spokesman added: “We were contacted about three abandoned horses in Vandyke Road, Leighton Buzzard, on Monday. An RSPCA officer attended with the police and checked the horses, which showed no signs of injury or ill health.
“As they were abandoned, they come under the Control of Horses Act 2015, which the RSPCA does not enforce. As part of the act, abandoned horses are the responsibility of the landowner or the local authority. We understand people’s frustrations, but the RSPCA must work within the law.
“Horses being left to fly graze has been a huge problem across England and Wales and this specific law was introduced with the aim of deterring people from leaving their horses in this manner.
“Sadly, the RSPCA and other equine welfare charities have been picking up the pieces of the ongoing horse crisis for many years, rescuing sick and injured horses who have been left without appropriate care. Quite often, their owners are almost impossible to trace.
“As a welfare charity, we have to prioritise our time for sick and injured horses and are already well over our capacity for horses - with stables for just 120, we have over 500 in our care, which are stabled through private boarding yards at a great cost to the charity.”