POLICE have warned of a spate of illegal deer poaching in north Lancashire and south Cumbria over the past few weeks.

Officers in Lancashire said they have dealt with six reported cases in the past fortnight in the Hale, Leighton and Warton areas.

It is believed that a group may be using high powered lamps, dogs and firearms to hunt and shoot deer in the area.

PC Andrew Massingham Lancashire Police Wildlife Officer said: “Wildlife crime and issues such as deer poaching are just as serious as other crimes and it tends to be committed by serious and organised crime groups who profit from the sale of carcasses and venison meat.

“This is not humane and these individuals are carrying out indiscriminate slaughter on a commercial scale with deer being taken regardless of species, sex or season, where they have no permission or authority to do so.”

Lorraine Ellwood, Lancashire Police Rural Policing and Wildlife Co-ordinator, said: “When larger numbers of animals go missing it tends to have been obtained to order and there is a risk that it could get into the food chain, which would have health implications.”

Officers have already made three arrests in connection will illegal poaching activity. A 24-year-old man from Carnforth, a 46-year-old man from Preston and a 50-year-old man from Preston have been bailed until January 2015.