A police operation against deer poaching has been extended to Fermanagh.

Operation Wild Deer was launched in Cookstown but has been introduced here in response to public concern about the illegal killing of the animals.

One consequence of poaching is that the deer may be wounded rather than cleanly killed, especially if weapons of the incorrect calibre are used. This often results in severe suffering for the animal.

Emma Meredith, the PSNI’s Wildlife Officer, explained: “Deer poaching can be barbaric and is against the law. It is the illegal or unauthorised hunting of deer. The Wildlife (NI) Order 1985 protects deer in Northern Ireland and it is an offence to take deer out of season, at night 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.” Operation Wild Deer is backed by the police, Countryside Alliance Ireland, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Scottish Association for Country Sports, the British Deer Society, Fermanagh District Council, Northern Ireland Environment Agency, Forest Service and Crimestoppers.

“It is encouraging so many organisations have come together to tackle illegal deer poaching and extended this initiative into Fermanagh,” said Constable Meredith. “The deer poaching leaflets and posters will now be distributed throughout Fermanagh.

Chief Superintendent Brian Kee is in charge of combating rural and wildlife crime.

He said: “Police take wildlife crime seriously and on occasions wildlife crime is linked to other crimes such as rural crime.

“PSNI encourage local people to support the organisations that have worked hard in creating this pro-active 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,” he stated.

Inspector Rory Hoy added: “Local police resources will be used in tackling and combating this type of crime, particularly within local forests. The shooting and country sports organisations represented in the initiative are keen to see the use of best practice during stalking. All these organisations have condemned deer poaching, which, they say, brings the responsible shooting community into disrepute.” The illegal sale of venison can pose serious risks to human health therefore Fermanagh District Council’s Environmental Health Department supports the initiative.

Police are urging anyone with information on deer poaching to contact them on 0845 600 8000 or anonymously to Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.