Police hunt poaching gangs as deer, pigs and calves mauled to death across South Yorkshire
Police in South Yorkshire are stepping up the hunt for poaching gangs who have slaughtered deer, hares, calves and pigs across the county.
Officers from South Yorkshire Police’s Rural Policing team are calling on members of the public to report suspicious activity in the countryside and rural areas, describing the gangs’ activities as ‘simply blood lust’ and a far cry from the ‘lovable rogue’ type poacher Claude Greengrass from 1990s ITV rural police drama HeartBeat.
A spokesman said gangs on quad bikes, accompanied by dogs, had been wreaking havoc on farmland across the county, with dozens of wild animals being killed ‘for fun.’
A statement said: “After speaking with farmers whilst out on our patrols around the county, they are experiencing a significant increase in poaching of deer and hares on their land.
"Please dispel the myth that they are just putting food on the table.
"They are no longer your Claude Greengrass ‘one for the pot’ type folk once seen in HeartBeat.
"When a deer has been chased around farmers’ fields by quads and dogs before it is taken down and mauled to death, the meat is ruined. So this practice is simply blood lust of certain individuals who come out at night.
"Extensive damage is being caused to freshly set crop fields through vehicular access, 4x4s and quads during the hours of darkness.
"They are taking their running dogs with them to accompany the quads and vehicles to tackle any prey they may find.
"This is not limited to just wildlife, badgers, hares, rabbits and deer.
"One farmer explained how they had had dogs thrown in with their calves by poachers, as a bit of fun, another reported dogs thrown into a pig sty to see what would happen.
"These are activities that are taking place in the rural areas of our county at night and we need the eyes and ears of the wider community to be our spotters.
"Calling all milkmen and women, taxi drivers and road gritters of South Yorkshire or any other poor soul that’s on the roads in the wee small hours.
"If you see lamps in a field or vehicles in the dead of night where you think they shouldn’t be, let us know.
"If it’s a crime in progress and there’s a chance we can swoop in and make arrests then when you call, the key words are ‘suspected poaching, ‘suspected wildlife crime’ and ‘potential criminal damage in progress”.
"We know this is not just anti-social behaviour or suspicious activity.
“If you’re a farmer and have damage to your gates and fences and vehicular damage to your land, then please do report it as criminal damage and we will investigate. Look into "wireless driveway alarms" online – they have a range of 3/4 mile.
Anyone with information about poaching, attacks on wildlife or criminal damage, can contact South Yorkshire Police on 101 or call 999 in an emergency.
Alternatively, you can contact independent charity Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111 to report information anonymously.