By Emma Hallett
Poaching is on the increase across the country and with deer carcasses doubling in value in four years, police forces are reporting a shift in the type of people involved in the crime.
Devon and Cornwall Police patrol the area with the largest population of red deer in England and say it is time to "make a stand" against the poachers.
Poaching has long been associated with the lone individual in a long coat with a brace of pheasants over his shoulder.
But, the pursuit is being increasingly infiltrated by violent, organised gangs eyeing the profits of large-scale slaughter, with carcasses changing hands for hundreds of pounds.
They are using high-tech equipment to hunt the animals, on behalf of "unscrupulous" butchers, dealers and restaurants.
Dogs used It is not only causing concern about firearms safety and trespass, but over the consequences of unlicensed or unchecked meat entering the food chain.
Now, a new initiative - named Project Trespass - has been set up to crack down on illegal poachers, with the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) naming it one of the UK's top wildlife crime priorities.
Police say modern poaching includes the use of sophisticated telescopic rifles with night sights, powerful lamps and four-wheel-drive vehicles.
To avoid detection, some will use quieter weapons such as crossbows and knives and police say groups of people are getting together to take a number of deer in one night. More....