POLICE have warned that deer are now ‘top of the list’ for poachers in Northumberland.
Northumberland wildlife crime officer PC Mick Leybourne said: “We take poaching very seriously and work with local gamekeepers and farmer to target illegal poachers.
“We run a number of operations across Northumberland where we pro-actively look for and target those involved in poaching and have them stopped.
“Poachers no longer seem content with lamping for rabbit and hare.
“Deer are now top of their list and they go to great lengths to kill them using firearms and dogs.”
He added: “We have excellent links with farmers and gamekeepers and would encourage them to continue to report similar incidents to us.”
The warning follows a man being arrested on suspicion of poaching in the Stannington area at the end of last month.
At 2.25am on Saturday, January 28, officers were patrolling the area when they came across a 4x4 parked by the side of the road.
They stopped and spoke to the driver, who was standing at the rear of the vehicle and had blood on his hands.
When they checked further, the bodies of two young deer were found next to the vehicle. They had been gutted.
Officers arrested a 37-year-old Ashington man and seized the vehicle and a firearm.
The man has been bailed pending further inquiries.
A second man made off from police at the scene and inquiries are continuing to trace him.
Police warned that those found to be poaching can face having their vehicle and firearms seized from them under the Night Poaching Act.