'Despicably cruel' deer dog poaching condemned in Cumbria
There are concerns that dogs are being used to poach deer in Cumbria.
Poachers usually use search-lights and rifles, but The South Lakes Deer Management Group said it was becoming more common to use specially-trained lurchers to hunt.
In the past year the remains of 17 deer, thought to have been killed by dogs, have been found within a three-mile radius of the village of Rusland.
The management group condemned the poaching as "despicably cruel".
It is also concerned that venison is being sold via the black market despite it containing dog bite marks and with no checks for disease or contamination.
'Hit and miss'
A spokesperson for the group said: "The continuing use of despicably cruel methods by poachers is an affront to our native deer and to those people who live and work in the countryside where the deer are to be found.
"We understand that deer numbers need to be controlled, to ensure a healthy and balanced deer population - but every time a poacher takes a deer without regard to age, gender or condition of the animal, that balance is much more difficult to achieve."
Paul Harris, from Operation Samurai, the Cumbria Police anti-poaching operation said that it was not easy to catch those responsible.
He said: "We're just patrolling hoping to stop someone who's a likely target. It's very much hit and miss though."