DEER are being cruelly hunted down in West Lancashire by poachers with dogs as criminals seek to cash-in before Christmas.
Police are revealing the shocking details of how poachers are operating in the areas as part of a warning for people in rural areas to stay vigilant.
The animals are being butchered for their meat and their carcasses left behind by the criminals – who are targeting the animals as prices for venison rise in the run-up to Christmas.
There have been recent reports of poaching in parts of Parbold, Ormskirk and Scarisbrick, and residents in rural areas are now being urged to stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity.
Lancashire police’s wildlife crime officer Mark Thomas said: “Meat prices have been rising as the festive period approaches and poachers are able to sell on venison for about £1.20 per pound, so they will look to kill as large a beast as possible to get maximum profits.
“As their main concern is to get on and off the property quickly, they will often show extreme cruelty when killing a deer.
“They will take dogs with them and operate under lamp light. Coupled with the fact that many poachers also carry out other crimes while they are on private land, including theft and criminal damage, it is really important that residents report suspicious activity to us.”
He added: “We are stepping up patrols in rural areas but the extra set of eyes and ears of rural residents is invaluable.
“We would ask them to report any suspicious vehicles, sightings of lamplights in fields or offers that they may get to buy venison or other meat.
“Visits will also be made to butchers to ensure the source of supply of their meat is legitimate.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency, always dial 999.