A MAJOR initiative to combat deer poaching has been launched at Davagh Forest Park.
Members of a number of organisations committed to the prevention of wildlife crime attended as part of the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime.
Emma Meredith, Wildlife Officer with the PSNI, described how the partnership, which have produced a new leaflet and poster scheme to raise awareness, got started.
“We had a number of organisations approach the PSNI who said that they believed that there was illegal deer poaching happening in Davagh Forest,” she said. “We started to work with these organisations and last year we launched Operation Wild Deer. This involved these organisations coming together and working on something proactive to stop this happening. Police can investigate, however, it takes other organisations to come together to combat it.
“Really what we want is for people to report to local police if they believe that deer poaching is happening. Although we have started this initiative in Davagh Forest this is throughout Northern Ireland.
“Very often people are unsure of who to tell if they have come across evidence they believe is indicative of deer poaching and this was the prime reason why the Operation Wild Deer posters and leaflets were created. What we are asking for is for people to report their sightings to local police including if they have been offered venison for sale.
“If you suspect illegal deer poaching, get in touch with police on 0845 600 8000 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
Fallow, Red and Sika are the three main types of deer in Northern Ireland and deer poaching is an illegal activity. One consequence of poaching is that animals 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.
The evidence usually left behind is deer heads, legs or grallochs (stomach and intestines) all of which should be reported to your local PSNI station.
Lyall Plan is Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance Ireland and is also Chairman of the Poaching sub-group of the Partnership against Wildlife Crime for Northern Ireland.
He said, “I’m delighted to be at Davagh Forest Park to attend the launch of this great initiative that will encourage reports on poaching to be passed to the PSNI. The main issue for this campaign is to increase the reporting of incidences of poaching to the PSNI. This will enable us to target resources to combat this wildlife crime.
“The Countryside Alliance Ireland is committed to the countryside and the rural way of life. We value and respect our wildlife within our community and we wish them to be protected.”