£150,000 is spent on rounding up Dudley horses
Almost £150,000 has been spent on rounding up stray horses in one Black Country borough in the past two years, new figures show.
Officials from Dudley Council say they are committed to tackling the problem and are working with the RSCPA and police.
Further talks are also planned to discuss how to improve the welfare of strays seen grazing in the borough.
Latest figures show 257 horses were impounded across Dudley between April 2011 and last month as the authority grappled to get a grip on the problem.
In total, £75,484 was spent on rounding up horses in 2011-12 while £72,620 has so far been paid out during the current 2012-13 financial year. The council has stumped up cash to pay for a horse bailiff to seize horses seen illegally grazing on council-owned land.
The authority has also been forced to pay out for a contractor to collect horses found straying into roads under an arrangement reached between council officers and police.
Officials revealed, through a Freedom of Information request, that only seven horses were successfully reunited with their owners in the past two years. One horse which was impounded also had to be put to sleep.
The council has previously confirmed more than 170 horses which were found to be strays were re-homed while a further 59 are waiting to be found new owners. They said no horses had been slaughtered for the human food chain in light of the recent horse meat scandal.
The council took action to reduce the number of wandering horses in the borough after complaints about them running into the road and stomping over gardens.
They were also spotted grazing by the leisure centre in Wellington Road and opposite Dudley Magistrates Court building, in The Inhedge.
Duncan Lowndes, Dudley Council's assistant director of culture and leisure, recently said the problem of stray horses had decreased.
But residents recently raised fresh concerns about horse welfare over animals seen on Fens Pool Nature Reserve.
Dudley Council's environment chief, Councillor Tracy Wood today said: "The budget for this work is unaffected by the council's budget setting process and we remain committed to this work and tackling this issue."
Meanwhile in Sandwell, bailiffs have been seizing the stray animals. It followed complaints about horses kicking over bins and damaging gardens in Tipton. There were also problems on the Wednesbury Oak Estate.
But the move has prompted controversy among horse lovers who have threatened legal action after their pets were seized. Last year, around 20 horses were seized.
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