Barnstaple men arrested on suspicion of poaching


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Police recover a deer carcass and firearms after being called to reports of shooting at West Down.

TWO Barnstaple men were arrested on Sunday after allegedly shooting a deer near West Down.

A member of the public reported hearing shooting in the area at around 5pm and alerted police – when officers arrived they began a search on the ground while the police helicopter was called in to help.

They discovered a deer carcass, firearms and arrested two men on suspicion of unlawfully killing a deer and taking a deer at night. The pair, aged 42 and 40, have been released on police bail pending investigation.

The incident follows attempts to crack down on poaching in and around Exmoor, which has been under the spotlight in recent weeks amid growing local concern following the grisly discovery of 11 severed red deer heads in a South Molton lay-by.

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Local police have held public meetings at Lynton and Shirwell with landowners and other interested groups as part of the nationwide Project Trespass initiative aimed at tackling deer poaching.

A key message was for landowners to be aware as far as possible who was on their land and with the correct licences if they had permission.

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Any suspected poaching activity such as the sound of gunfire should be reported to the police immediately by calling 999.

Sergeant Paul Jones, neighbourhood team leader for Ilfracombe and Braunton, said extra patrols had been laid on to deal with the poaching problem.

“This shows that we are determined to stamp out this illegal activity,” he said.

“I am grateful to any members of the public that give us an early warning.”

For more in formation or advice on poaching, contact PC Martin Beck or Sergeant Dave Knight by dialling 101.

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