A public meeting to discuss ways to tackle the menace of poaching on Exmoor is to be held tonight.
Presentations will include discussions on firearms law, deer law, best practice and what can be done to help the authorities catch the poachers.
ENPA Ranger Richard Eales said: “It is very important the group works together with Exmoor residents so as soon as they see or suspect that poaching or the illegal killing of deer is taking place they can notify the police.”
It was apparent after a similar seminar at Lynton last year that many local people are not aware of the Deer Act 1991 which creates offences of poaching specific to deer. The poaching offences involve entering land without consent in pursuit of deer.
There are however further offences of taking and killing deer at night, taking and killing deer in the close seasons and taking and killing deer with prohibited weapons, that do not necessarily involve trespass or poaching.
Sergeant Andy Whysall, from Avon and Somerset Police, said: “If you have people shooting on your land without permission or you suspect someone is shooting deer at night and the act is taking place call 999 immediately.” Otherwise, the police advise, dial 101.
Members of the public are invited to attend the meeting at Exford village hall, after a surge in poaching incidents across the region, including illegal stalking and coursing deer with dogs.
The seminar is part of the Exmoor Rural Crime Initiative which brings together different agencies.
Devon and Cornwall and Avon and Somerset police, the Exmoor National Park Authority, the National Trust, the Environment Agency, The Crown Estate, River Exe Tributaries Association, Forestry Commission, the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Deer Initiative will all be represented..
There is no need to book to attend the event, which begins at 7.30pm. Anyone with an interest in the welfare of Exmoor’s red deer is welcome.