By David Scott
Managers at Ardnamurchan Estate, near Kilchoan, in Argyll, have offered a £5,000 reward for information on what they believe to be highly organised criminals.
They say that each haul would net thousands of pounds’ worth of the sought-after meat.
In the latest incident at the estate, poachers escaped empty-handed after workers caught them in the act.
Estate manager Donald Houston said: “We had a major incident in broad daylight last Sunday. One of our workers saw the guys – they were using rifles with sights and silencers.
“We lost hinds but the gang did not take them – they just ran off.
“They brought down one stone dead and nicked another one. We found it dead the next day.
“This was a well-organised, commercial activity – not locals after ‘one for the pot’.”
According to Mr Houston, estates in Morvern, Moidart and Sunart in Inverness-shire have seen up to 20 hinds taken at a time.
He said: “Coming up to Christmas is when the big venison market is there.
“You are talking about tens of thousands of pounds of venison alone – never mind anything else.
“If this poaching is not stopped, it will cost men their jobs.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Gamekeepers Association said deer poaching was a serious problem facing estates. He added: “Wildlife crime in Scotland is the most prevalent, according to latest statistics.
“The level of sophistication that is being shown in the commission of these crimes show that the perpetrators are not amateurs. It is very worrying and something that needs to be addressed.” More....