Gardai smashed a gang they believe is responsible for poaching up to 200 deer after boasts about the exploits were posted on Facebook.
Operation Bambi was carried out by officers with the assistance of the National Parks Wildlife Service and targeted a gang that was regarded as highly active.
The deerhunters have been operating without a licence in counties Wicklow, Carlow and Kilkenny and have been under investigation by gardai since the start of the season in September.
Senior sources have revealed that one suspect used Facebook to boast that he had killed 15 deer on one night, and that gardai would not catch him.
The inquiries culminated yesterday in the arrest of three men in their 20s, two in Carlow town and one in Rathvilly, Co Carlow.
The three were detained throughout the day at Carlow and Thomastown garda stations under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act and released last night.
They were questioned about suspected reckless discharge of a firearm and also about alleged offences under the Wildlife Act.
Gardai from Bray and Baltinglass, Wicklow, backed up by armed members of the regional support unit, seized a number of items as potential evidence during planned searches of their homes.
A source explained: “Ultimately, this individual's ridiculous boasts about the deer he has shot on online and other forums led directly to three arrests yesterday.”
Carlow-based Inspr Martin Walker, who led the inquiries, told the Irish Independent last night that ‘Bambi’ was an on-going operation and further inquiries would be carried out into the activities of poachers.
The poachers operated with the help of a high-powered lamp and an electronic device imitating the call of a stag during the rut, or mating season, in October. More....