Fears are growing that illegal poaching in parts of the Westcountry is escalating following the discovery of the severed heads of 11 stags in a lay-by.
The majestic animals also had their antlers hacked off before their remains were dumped at South Molton in Devon near Exmoor National Park in late September, it has been revealed.
With antlers worth hundreds of pounds, police in the area have linked it with a national campaign, Project Trespass, aimed at co-ordinating action nationally to tackle poaching, which traditionally increases in the autumn.
It is not illegal to shoot deer in daylight but hunters need permission from landowners and licenses for their firearms.
But PC Martin Beck, wildlife crime officer who is based at Lynton, said that their efforts were not aimed at law-abiding hunters.
"We have a huge field sport and hunting tradition on Exmoor which is worth millions", he said.
"We are trying to encourage good sport and tourism for the area, but we want to stamp down on illegal practices."
Public meetings are taking place in villages across the region for concerned farmers and landowners.
"We are now into pre-Christmas prime poaching time, although it has been going on probably most of the year," PC Beck said. More....