An initiative to tackle the issue of deer poaching has been running in the Clogher Valley area.
Following concerns from members of the public, local PSNI officers have raised the profile of the Operation Wild Deer initiative to help address the issues in this area.
Representatives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), including the Wildlife Liaison Officer, firearms branch and local police joined forces with Countryside Alliance Ireland (CAI), the British Deer Society (BDS), British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Environmental Health, Forest Service NI, Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), Scottish Association for Country Sports (SACS) and Crimestoppers. These organisations continue to work together to combat illegal and on-going deer poaching issues and to ensure illegal meat is not sold into the food industry under the umbrella term Operation Wild Deer.
Fallow, Red and Sika are the three established species of deer that can be lawfully hunted in Northern Ireland provided they are in season, during the lawful hours, landowner permission is obtained, a legal calibre is used and appropriate safety protocols are followed. Deer poaching is an illegal hunting activity under the Wildlife (NI) Order 1985 as amended, whereby the ‘hunter’ has not meet one or more of the above conditions.
One consequence of poaching is that animals may be wounded rather than cleanly killed, especially if weapons of the incorrect calibre are used, resulting in severe suffering for the animal.
Emma Meredith, the PSNI’s Wildlife Liaison Officer, explained: “Deer poaching can be barbaric and is against the law. It is the illegal or unauthorised hunting of deer. The Wildlife Order as amended protects deer in Northern Ireland and it is an offence to kill, injure or take deer (Red, Sika or Fallow) out of season, kill, injure or take any deer between the expiration of the first hour after sunset and the commencement of the last hour before sunrise, or entering any land without the consent of the owner, occupier or other lawful authority in search or pursuit of deer with the intention of killing, injuring or taking deer.
“It is encouraging so many organisations have come together to tackle illegal deer poaching through Operation Wild Deer. Partner organisations have collectively worked on deer poaching leaflets and posters which local police have been distributing throughout the Clogher area. The posters and leaflets were designed so police officers and local organisations such as the partnership organisations can use these to help raise the profile of deer poaching and to encourage reporting in the hope to put a stop to deer poaching in targeted areas in Northern Ireland.
PSNI would encourage local people to support the Operation Wild Deer partnership and also be on the lookout for unusual vehicle movements at any time of the day or night. The evidence usually left behind is deer heads, legs or grallochs (stomach and intestines) all of which we would ask is reported to your local PSNI station.
Supt Brian Kee, the PSNI service lead for rural and wildlife crime, stated: “Police take wildlife crime seriously and on occasions wildlife crime is linked to other crimes such as rural crime. The success of Operation Wild Deer should not be underestimated and is a perfect example of local police working tirelessly with local organisations to stop crime in their area. Operation Wild Deer is a long term initiative and one that can be used elsewhere in Northern Ireland as and when required and areas of concern are identified”
Police are urging anyone with information, on deer poaching to contact the PSNI on 101 or anonymously to Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.