A 'deer' price to pay

The North West British Deer Campaign Group and Cumbrian police are joining forces to crack down on deer poaching.

The area has seen a recent rise in deer poaching, put down to the demand for Christmas venison, which according to the North West British Deer Campaign Group, is 'seriously threatening the Lake District's deer population'.

Peter Robson, chairman of the campaign group, told MTJ that the poachers were reacting to a greater demand for deer meat at this time of the year, and called on meat retailers and foodservice professionals to double check the source of any meat offered and not to buy venison "via the back door".

"The animals are being shot with illegal calibre weapons and also being chased with dogs at night. It is worrying because some animals escape wounded and then die a lingering death" he commented. "We have found the remains of deer that suggests that the carcases are being sold for meat. It is likely that dogs have been allowed to chew on the meat so there is no guarantee of hygiene, and obviously the animal would not have been killed in a humane way."

Robson added that deer poaching was a year round problem as often the deer were killed for sport, but added that at this time of year, with venison being a popular festive offering, the problem became a more acute .

A video was recovered by police of a gang who had filmed themselves chasing a deer in a vehicle until it was too tired to go on and then releasing dogs to finish it off. "These don't care at all for the animals, or whether they are killed in or out of season or humanely," Robson added.

In association with Cumbrian and Lancashire Police North West British Deer Campaign Group has set up Night Watch, which the group hopes will infiltrate the current poachers and deter new ones.

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