30/01/2013 04:52 GMT

UK Weather: Dartmoor Ponies Hit And Killed By Cars After Licking Anti-Ice Salt On Roads

At lease eight Dartmoor ponies, an endangered species, have been run over and killed after straying onto roads to lick grit salt, it has emerged.

The recent spell of freezing weather has meant the animals have struggled to gain enough nutrition from snow-covered grass and have sought out minerals from elsewhere.

Six ponies were killed in December and two, including a foal, were killed this month, the BBC said.

There are only 850 Dartmoor Ponies left

The roads through Dartmoor have a 40mph speed limit although a flashing warning sign appears to have been broken. Motorists have been warned to take extra care.

Winter can be a treacherous time for the nation's animals. Salt and anti-freeze poses a particular problem for cats and dogs.

The RSPCA recorded 372 incidents of cats being poisoned by anti-freeze over the last year, the vasty majority of which were fatal.

Dogs can be very susceptible to salt poisoning with only a small amount needed to cause toxicity.

For information on poisoning in pets see here for cats and here for dogs.