By Linda Stewart
Deer in some of Northern Ireland's forests are turning nocturnal, apparently in a bid to avoid poachers, experts believe.
Police say they are concerned that poaching is going on in forests in the Tyrone and Fermanagh areas and are urging the public to report anything suspicious.
In recent months the PSNI has teamed up with councils, environmental groups and country sports groups in the Cookstown area to try and ensure illegal venison does not reach the human food chain.
Their concerns were sparked following a report last year that a female deer was found with gunshot injuries in Davagh Forest after she was apparently targeted by poachers.
Environmental officers are also involved in the campaign, concerned that people who buy venison "off the back of a lorry" may not realise that they could be eating contaminated meat from an animal that was not shot cleanly.
The British Deer Society says it is proving difficult to assess the extent of poaching in Northern Ireland, but the indications are that wild deer poaching has been on the rise for a number of years.
Spokesman Martin Malone said: "Unfortunately, this is an unseen problem and hard evidence is difficult to gather and prosecutions few. More....