Don't miss a story sign up to the North Devon Gazette's FREE daily newsletter CLICK HERE

Severed stags’ heads dumped at roadside

12:58 30 October 2013

Are the red deer stags of Exmoor under threat from poachers?

Are the red deer stags of Exmoor under threat from poachers?


Grisly discovery at South Molton lay-by.

A majestic red deer stag.A majestic red deer stag.

THE grisly discovery of 11 stag heads at South Molton has triggered fears illegal poaching is spiralling out of control in the area.

Police have confirmed the find was made at the lay-by in Folly Lane during the weekend of September 28-29.

Officers were alerted by a member of the public who reported a strong smell. They found the badly decomposed red deer heads in plastic bags and riddled with maggots.

The North Devon Gazette understands that they had been shorn of their antlers.

There are unconfirmed reports of similar incidents and the discovery of wounded deer shot by illegal or irresponsible hunters.

With the rutting season underway, Exmoor’s red deer stags are now crowned in all their glory - antlers of 12 points or more can sell for several hundred pounds.

Sergeant Dave Knight, part of the force Wildlife Crime Group, said in all likelihood it was the work of poachers: “We have no lines of inquiry regarding this, but we are having problems with poaching of deer in North Devon at the moment.

“There are other methods being used too – we have had reports of people using dogs to bring down deer.

“Peoples’ idea of poaching seems to be the guy hunting for his family, but that’s long gone – it is big business now.”

Local police have linked in with a new campaign to tackle poaching called Project Trespass, which aims to co-ordinate action across the country.

“We are now into pre-Christmas prime poaching time, although it has been going on probably most of the year,” said PC Martin Beck, wildlife crime officer who is based at Lynton.

“We get regular information from people who suspect they have poaching taking place on their land.

“I cover Brendon to Parracombe, Trentishoe, Heddon Valley and down to Arlington and Loxhore – all areas where we have received intelligence about it going on.

“It’s quite far reaching, people feel quite helpless because there are people with weapons on their land, but analysts have also proved the link between poaching and crimes such as burglary, theft or handling drugs.

“Then there is the firearms safety issue and people shooting at night, which inherently dangerous.”

There are public meetings at Lynton Town Hall on Thursday of next week (November 7) and at Shirwell Village Hall on Friday, November 22. Both begin at 7.30pm and are aimed primarily at concerned farmers or landowners.

It is not illegal to shoot deer, with permission from the landowner and the season on red deer stags is August to April (November to March for hinds) but firearms must be licensed and it is illegal to shoot at night.

But PC Beck said the police efforts were not aimed at law-abiding hunters: “We have a huge field sport and hunting tradition on Exmoor which is worth millions,” he said.

“We are trying to encourage good sport and tourism for the area, but we want to stamp down on illegal practices.”

Sgt Knight appealed for anyone with information about this or any poaching incident, to contact the police as soon as possible.

“We have quite a few reports of suspected poaching, but people tend to wait until the following day before telling us, so we’re asking them to call us straight away if they see anything, via 999 if it’s actually happening,” he said.

If anyone has any information regarding the 11 stag heads found in the Folly Lane lay-by or any other poaching incident, contact Sgt Dave Knight or PC Martin Beck by dialling 101.

1 comment

  • What an appalling article! Should we be surprised with this Government approving badgers being wiped out? Badgers are seen regularly dead on the Link Road - supposed "road kills" but are being wiped out by farmers and yobos. Wildlife is rapidly disappearing in various parts of North Devon. The police are just not doing enough.

    Report this comment


    Monday, November 4, 2013

Other News Stories

John Balls with Clovelly caught lobsters.

Lobster fisherman has reached a landmark in his bid to help conservation at Clovelly

Read more
Is the row over dogs back at Instow beach?

Parish Council meeting on Thursday, October 15 to review the situation

Read more
Residents protest against the plans at the site in March. Picture: Jim Bell

Benefits outweigh the harm, says Government inspector

Read more
Get your chickens an Eglu and help raise money for the British Hen Welfare Trust today (Friday).

Support for British Hen Welfare Trust from the Omlet Eglu

Read more
Police are trying to track the car in this picture

The owner of a blue Nissan Almeira could have vital information on collision that killed Natalie Jones, say police

Read more

September saw a 4.9 per cent increase in crime in Barnstaple on the same period last year.

Read more
Portmore's Colin and Mandy Webber presented the cheque to representatives of the club's chosen charities

Five local charities are to benefit from another year of fundraising at Portmore Golf Club.

Read more
Yesterday, 17:17

Fire called out to help in the early hours of Thursday morning

Read more
Yesterday, 13:20
A busy Woolacombe Bay. North Devon has seen a welcome late summer boost in tourism this year

Tourism sectors across the region are reaping the benefits as a result of the late summer sunshine.

Read more
Yesterday, 12:06
Giant veg grower David Maund picked up a number of placings at the Malvern Autumn Show

A giant-vegetable grower from Bideford has returned from a national competition with a prize haul almost as big as some of his extraordinary exhibits.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 15°C

min temp: 10°C

Most Read News

Great British Life

Great British Life

Useful Links

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
North Devon Football League
Order Photos
Family notices
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Read the North Devon Gazette e-edition E-edition

Search for a job in Devon

Local business directory

North Devon's trusted business finder

Find planning applications