Poaching gangs target Shropshire as county becomes worst hit in the Midlands
Poachers are targeting Shropshire, with farmers and landowners being hit hard by the loss of hundreds of animals and birds.
Police today said the county is the worst-hit in the Midlands – with the latest theft involving 200 ducks from a property near Bridgnorth.
Pheasants, partridge, rabbits and deer have been killed by organised gangs, thought to be coming from outside the region. Hare coursing is also a problem, particularly in north Shropshire.
Graham Donaldson, of West Mercia Police, said thieves targeted land near Middleton Scriven at night and shot and took away 200 ducks that had been sleeping on a pond.
- Deer poached in south Shropshire woods
- Suspected poachers spotted around Bridgnorth
- Trio of poachers with large dogs spotted near Newport, police warn
- Poachers believed to be at work near Bridgnorth
- Poachers warning after gates broken near Ludlow
“They would have been an easy target as they were fed every day and so would not have been disturbed by the thieves,” Mr Donaldson said.
“That is also why birds such as pheasants and partridges that are being reared are easy targets. Because they are not wild they do not see humans as enemies because they feed them.”
He said the county was experiencing a big increase in poaching and added that with Christmas just weeks away thieves might be selling the meat to the festive market.
Last month at least one deer was taken from woods in south Shropshire. Officers said deer poaching had taken place around Chorley area.
Local residents walking in the woods found tracks and evidence to show at least one deer had been poached.
The rural crime department for West Mercia says that Shropshire is definitely the poaching hotspot for the region.
He added: “Rabbiting is a big problem and at the moment with fields in stubble we have had a lot of hare coursing in the north of the county.”
Police are warning poachers will often have an ulterior motive, checking out farms and outbuildings for things to steal.
“They will be casing out the area and may return to take equipment or vehicles,” Mr Donaldson said.
“Poaching can have a serious economic effect on those who are rearing birds or animals.
"It isn’t just a case of someone shooting a couple of rabbits on a farmer’s land.”
The police are urging people living in the countryside to be on their guard and report unusual activity on 101 or, in an emergency, 999.
This could be vehicles parked up at night or lights seen in fields, they say.
Mr Donaldson can also be contacted in a non urgent way through firstname.lastname@example.org.