By Philippa Duncan
Iinterstate poachers have arrived in Tasmania and their sights are trained on deer.
At this time of the year, deer are as easy to shoot as "sitting ducks".
It is believed the poachers are armed with hi-tech gear including satellite phones, quad bikes, infra-red heat detectors and night-viewing equipment.
Tasmanian Deer Advisory Council and Tasmanian Deerstalkers president Terry Hill said poachers were an annual problem, but this year they had arrived earlier.
"They're mainly shooting stags to get the trophy, so if they shoot one, and are not happy, they just keep going, it's absolutely criminal," he said.
"They just want to shoot the best of the herd.
"I had a report last year that two got about 28 stags between them."
Mr Hill said three cars with interstate number plates had been spotted this month at Ouse and Campbell Town. He said there had also been recent reports of deers shot and left to die.
'The deer season opens on February 27 and Mr Hill said at the moment deer were particularly vulnerable as they were growing new antlers, which were very tender.
"They have the velvet growing on their antlers. If they bump that it is very painful," he said.
"They don't run for cover because they are timid. They are more or less sitting ducks."
Mr Hill said recreational hunters could take only two or three deer a season and eat the meat but poachers shot hundreds and left the meat to rot.
"Each year we have found large amounts of animals with their heads cut off," he said. More....