OPERATIONS are ongoing across Cumbria Police to tackle wildlife crime.

Cumbria Police said the poaching of game, fish, and hare, was recognised as a national problem which has led to it being included within the six wildlife crime priorities set by Government.

PC Helen Branthwaite, Wildlife and Environmental Crime Co-Ordinator, said: “Poaching has strong links to other types of rural acquisitive crime and the impact on our rural communities should not be underestimated.

“Cumbria Police recognise these concerns and are working with a variety of partner organisations to tackle the issue.

“Operations are on-going across the force to target offenders using the expertise within our Wildlife Crime Officer Team and neighbourhood policing teams through different local initiatives.

“Offenders exploit our wildlife for their own gain and in doing so cause significant suffering and disruption.”

Deer are a common target and are often hunted with dogs or by using high powered lamps, say police.

They added that venison acquired illegally can find its way into the food chain through being sold outside of the regulated system leading to potential health risks down the line.

In December 2013 Police were called to a report of a deer carcass being located by a member of the public after hearing a loud gunshot noise close to his home.

As a result, in June 2014 a man was sentenced after being charged with possession of a loaded firearm in a public place.

He was ordered to pay a £1000 fine plus costs, as well as being found guilty of killing a deer at night.

“Such convictions send a clear message to offenders that we will investigate reports of alleged poaching,” added PC Branthwaite. “ Often firearms certificates are revoked and destruction of firearms ordered as part of the process.

“This should be a warning to those involved of the potential longer term consequences.”

For more information on poaching, rural and wildlife crime visit www.cumbria.police.uk Anyone with any concerns should call Cumbria Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.