The man who owns 1,000 acres of shooting rights at Favour Royal near Augher has hit out at the lack of prosecutions for people illegally shooting deer and other wildlife in the area.

Barry McAlpine often hears gun shots during the night near his home which is surrounded by dense woodland, where poachers “regularly” shoot deer, hares and birds.

He has witnessed the tell-tale signs of poaching which include deer heads, legs and intestines.

Last week, Mr. McAlpine read with interest an article in The Impartial Reporter: ‘Deer being shot to order in Clogher Valley and meat sold’.

Read: Deer being shot to order in Clogher Valley

Mr. McAlpine, a solicitor from Dungannon, has spoken out about an incident on his land two years ago that he reported to police and which the Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute because of “insufficient evidence”.

He said local police do an “excellent” job in trying to tackle the crime of deer poaching but believes that “unless there is a change of mindset” in the Prosecution Service, “these problems will continue.”

Mr. McAlpine told The Impartial Reporter: “On September 13, 2014 I was walking through my own area of woodland which is well fenced. I encountered a person dressed in camouflage clothing wearing a balaclava and carrying a rifle, not a shotgun. 

“I called out to the man. He turned, saw me and ran away. In his frantic efforts to clamber over the fence he fell. He recovered and ran across an adjoining field towards an area where I know he must have parked. I returned to my yard to get my car. As I drove to meet him in a very narrow lane I had to swerve to avoid being driven into. I saw him through an open car window, three-four feet from my own car. I took his registration number and reported it to the local police.

Read: Deer being shot to order in Clogher Valley

“My understanding is that the police pass the information to their own Firearms Branch. This is where matters became difficult. The Firearms Branch will inform anyone who makes a complaint that their role is ‘not to investigate an incident but to consider the impact of any incident on the status of a certificate held by someone involved in an incident’. They told me that they could be of no assistance as the person who I was accusing of armed trespass said he had written permission to be on the land. They would give me absolutely, no assistance, information or support.

Impartial Reporter:

“I followed their [Firearms Branch] advice and went back to the local Police. The Police then passed the file to the Crown Prosecution Service. I had stated that I was prepared to attend court to give my evidence in the event of a prosecution for armed trespass. I eventually received a letter from the Prosecution Service to say that they had decided not to pursue a prosecution as in their opinion there was insufficient evidence,” he said.
Mr. McAlpine asked the PPS what to do in future if he encounters “an armed and uninvited character on my land.” Two years later, he has still not had a reply. He said: “I’ve lived here for 28 years and poaching has always been a problem. People like that maverick I came across in the forest don’t care who owns the land. This meat is entering the human food chain. I know a butcher who has been approached by people trying to sell him deer but he refuses.”
Mr. McAlpine concluded: “The experience I’ve had with local police has been excellent. The problems will arise however once a report is passed to the Prosecution Service. Unless they have a change in mindset, these problems will continue.”

Commenting on deer poaching, PSNI lead for Rural and Wildlife Crime, Superintendent Brian Kee said: “Deer poaching can be barbaric and is against the law. It is the illegal or unauthorised hunting of deer. The Wildlife Order protects deer in Northern Ireland and it is an offence to kill, injure or take deer out of season, during the hours of darkness 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.”

He asked for people to be on the look out for evidence of deer poaching “such as deer heads, legs or grallochs (stomach and intestines), all of which we would ask is reported to your local PSNI station so we can target specific areas.”

He urged anyone with information, on deer poaching to contact the PSNI on 101 or anonymously to Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.