Police urge the public to report poaching or any sales of illegal meat, fish or livestock

Police in North Devon and across the region have launched a campaign to tackle poaching and track down illegal meat on the dinner plate.

Monday sees the start of National Wildlife Crime Awareness Week and police have once again urged the public to report any poaching in rural areas.

They also want to trace where the meat or fish is going as it enters the food chain and will be seeking information on restaurants, hotels and suppliers.

They warn such meat is sold outside the legal regulations and could pose a health risk in the form of tuberculosis and E.coli.

North Devon's wildlife crime officer, PC Martin Beck, said those profiting from poaching and livestock theft were making landowners lives a misery.

"These people are in it for financial gain and linked to other types of criminality. Members of the public now have an opportunity to report these criminals," he said.

"Ultimately the poacher is making his financial gain somewhere and this is where we will be looking next.

"We also want to know where this meat is going, where it is being butchered and stored, who is buying it and where it is being sold. In some circumstances there may be a cash reward."

Agencies are now working together through the South West Anti-Poaching group, which includes Avon and Somerset plus Devon and Cornwall Police, The National Wildlife Crime Unit, Food Standards Agency, National Food Crime Unit, Trading Standards, Environmental Heath officers, Environment Agency, Animal and Plant Health Agency and Crimestoppers.

In October 2013 we reported how 11 severed stags heads had been found dumped in a South Molton lay by.

* If you have noticed anything suspicious in your area you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111. Or email 101@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk but in an emergency call 999.