Reports of deer being illegally shot in Havering leads to investigation

A deer

A deer - Credit: Archant

An investigation has been launched into reports of deer being illegally shot in Havering.

Police confirmed they had received a number of calls from people about the issue at Dagnam Park and the Manor nature reserve in Harold Hill.

Residents have also reportedly found the heads of decapitated deer whose bodies had been taken away by poachers for meat.

But despite the calls, the force confirmed nobody had yet been arrested on suspicion of committing the offence in the area.

Cllr Melvin Wallace, cabinet member for culture and community engagement at Havering Council, said: “Deer poaching is a criminal offence and we will support the Police in any investigation to ensure that this activity doesn’t happen in our parks.”

The borough’s wildlife officer Pc Anthony Kiddle is investigating.

David Hooton, from the Deer Initiative Partnership, which supports the sustainable management of wild deer, said the organisation had counted around 400 animals in the Harold Hill and Dagnam Park areas.

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He said: “Poaching has become a problem across the region, with people seeing them as a source of free meat.

“One issue is animal welfare, as some of these animals may not be killed and be wounded, go off and suffer and die.

“Poachers also don’t have permission to have fire arms on the land, it’s breaking the law.

“They are poaching deer off the landowner. Often they break down fences, damage land and steal other farm equipment.”

Around this time of year, Mr Hooton – deer liaison officer for the East of England – said deer come back together as larger family groups as their calves become fully grown – making them more visible.

The harvest also makes it easier for them to be spotted due to open fields, leading to an increase in poaching.

Poachers who are caught face being jailed and fined up to £5,000 for hunting illegally or up to £20,000 for causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.