THE TRADITIONAL image of a rural poacher taking a pheasant for the pot is far removed from the shady world of modern poaching, a lucrative criminal business, according to Sussex Police.
In recent years officers have worked closely with rural communities and partner agencies to tackle the problem in the county and an increasing number of poaching-related crimes are now being put before the courts.
Game dealers, restaurateurs, hotels and public houses are being advised to check that they are not buying illegally killed game.
They can do this by not purchasing meat from people who they don’t know, reporting immediately suspicious gatherings in car parks around vans or 4x4s and dealers in game should show legal documentation for the sale of meat.
Chief Inspector Martin Sims, who leads on wildlife crime for Sussex Police, said, “Commercial poaching is a serious problem on various levels.
“It is not a faceless crime. There is a real risk to public health as meat is introduced illegally into the system and in the case of deer poaching, the animals are shot at night using high-powered weapons with an obvious risk to public safety.
“There is also concern for deer not being killed in a clinical and professional manner as many are shot with weapons not suitable for the size of the animal.
“I would urge anyone to contact police with any information that would help in catching poachers, especially if they have been offered meat from sources other than bona fide dealers.
“I’d also like to send a warning to poachers themselves that we are working very closely with farm and land owners and in some cases even installing CCTV to catch poachers.
“It will not be tolerated and we will do all we can to support anyone that this crime affects.”
If you suspect illegal poaching is taking place call Sussex Police on 101 or if it’s happening there and then dial 999 immediately. Alternatively, you can call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.