THREE dead deer have been found in East Lancashire woodland during a suspected spate of poaching.
Police are unsure how the roe deer, which which were found by a passer-by on Tuesday afternoon, were killed but believe that they will have been targeted by poachers.
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Wildlife officers say that there has been a spate of deer killed in recent months, with seven carcasses found dumped on the boarder of Burnley and Accrington last month alone.
Lancashire police wildlife officer Carl Chew said that the number of dead deer found has been higher than the average for this time of year, with roe deer and sika deer being the main targets.
Residents in rural areas of the Ribble Valley have also been urged to be vigilant after reports of suspected poaching.
Police said that a Volvo Estate with four men and a dog inside had been seen driving around the Clitheroe area acting suspiciously.
A spokesman for Lancashire police said: “We received a phone call from an anonymous caller at 3.40pm on Tuesday saying there were three roe deer killed in the woods.
“They said that there were bones and that they think it is possible that they had been dead for a number of weeks.
“We have passed the information on to our wildlife officers who will be investigating the reports.”
Carl Chew said: “There have been a higher than normal number of deer carcasses found in Lancashire.
“Typically it is a quieter time of the year as far as poaching is concerned as the days are staying lighter longer more people are out and about.
“As yet we have not been to see the deer but will be going to see what has happened.
“It would be very unusual to have three deer carcases found in one place if they hadn’t been poached. Anyone stalking deer legally would dispose of them by incineration or by other correct means.
“Anyone found to be poaching will be dealt with in a serious manner.”
There are thought to be more than 1,000 roe deer, about 100 sika and only around 20 red deer in East Lancashire.
Poached carcasses are typically thought to be sold to restaurants, hotels and pubs for between £40 to £60.