POACHERS driving a camouflage-painted Land Rover have been spotted targeting animals in the Ribble Valley.

Detectives today released the 4x4’s registration number after a flock of sheep was ‘spooked’ by poachers who had a pack of hounds.

PC Tony Walsh, of the Ribble Valley Rural Team, said the vehicle was linked to a gang of thieves who target farmers’ fields under the cover of darkness.

He said: “Poachers with dogs are suspected to have been in fields close to a farm during the evening on Tuesday in the Horton area just off the A59 near to the border with north Yorkshire.

“The farmer states that a section of 10-foot high fencing has been damaged, probably by dogs running into it or chasing something into the fence.

“The farmer also says that his livestock on the land were spooked and remembers seeing what he describes as a Land Rover in camouflage paint during the evening parked up in the area.

“The reg number being R963 SDV, which is a Land Rover Defender 90 and is used by persons that have connections with poaching matters and other known persons who commit rural crime,” he claimed In April three dead roe deer were found dead, probably killed by bloodsports enthusiasts, in an East Lancashire woodland.

Wildlife officers said the find was part of a spate of deer killings in recent months, with seven carcasses found dumped on the border of Burnley and Accrington in a month.

Lancashire police wildlife officer Carl Chew said the finds were higher than the average for this time of year, with roe deer and sika deer being the main targets.

The lighter nights and longer days are usually a quieter time of the year for poaching as there are more people are out and about.

If anyone sees the Land Rover defender 90 R963 SDV please ring 101.