Deer in Conwy may have been killed for antler 'trophy'
Police investigating a spate of deer deaths believe the animals' antlers may have been removed as "sickening" trophies.
A deer was discovered with its antlers missing, and another severed head was discovered in woods near Abergele Hospital, Conwy.
The British Deer Society has stepped up anti-poaching work and urged anyone with suspicions to contact police.
The North Wales Police helicopter is being used in the search for poachers.
Graphic pictures of the deer, taken by the force's wildlife and environment officer Sergeant Rob Taylor, are shown below.
Sgt Taylor said patrols in the area would be increased.
He said: "There is a deer poaching problem at Kinmel Woods near Bodelwyddan and also the back of Abergele woods.
"A few weeks ago we had a deer killed and the whole carcass left, minus the antlers, which is very strange.
"And just last week a deer head was found, again minus the antlers near Abergele Hospital woods.
"This is a sickening crime.
"It could be that the antlers are being kept as trophies."
The force helicopter crew has been asked to assist in the search for poachers.
Sgt Taylor added: "When they are returning from other important tasks they will be using their latest thermal imaging equipment to quickly scan the area to search for poachers."
He said the force was taking the crimes extremely seriously.
A spokesperson for the British Deer Society, a charity which promotes deer welfare and management, said: "Poaching must always be condemned as apart from being criminal it usually involves significant cruelty when legal methods of deer management and seasonal restraints are contravened.
He said the society has run an anti-poaching campaign for many years and have recently increased its activity in this area by working closely with a number of police forces to promote awareness.
"The society recommends that if anybody become suspicious regarding any aspect of rural crime and in particular deer poaching, they contact their local police and ask for the wildlife crime division."