'Sick and barbaric' deer coursing remains a problem across Suffolk
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The "sick and barbaric" illegal blood sport of deer coursing remains a problem in Suffolk, according to a top rural police officer.
Sergeant Brian Calver, from Suffolk police's rural crime team, said organised crime gangs are active in the county - and are using specifically bred dogs to hunt deer.
Sgt Calver said the "horrendous" activity presents many challenges for his team, but work is being done to combat both deer coursing and poaching - which is spread across the county.
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"We know from looking at the hare coursers' phones that they're coursing deer as well," he said.
"They go to remote areas where they're unlikely to be seen at night so it's one of those things where nine times out of 10 it's discovered afterwards as opposed to people seeing it or hearing it going on.
"We've also got gangs coming down from Yorkshire with specifically bred dogs - a cross between a lurcher and a bull terrier - so they've got pace and power.
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"We've had really big red stags taken by them and it's just sick and barbaric.
"They're basically using vehicles to separate the deer from the herd and then they'll drop the dog out and if that dog tires, they'll drop another one out. It's absolutely horrendous.
"Then they'll just discard the carcass, they'll leave it so it's not obvious and try to conceal it, but they'll leave it behind often without the legs, and they'll often take the head as a trophy as well."
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As well as the cruelty inflicted on the animals hunted, Sgt Calver said there are other issues linked to the activity.
"The ones who are coursing, you've got the damage they're causing in vehicles that are probably uninsured, they'll be driving dangerously to get away and carrying weapons with them."
Sgt Calver added that operations have been undertaken by his team and those will continue but called upon landowners and farmers to help in reporting anything suspicious.
"We're trying to raise awareness of the problem, especially among the gamekeeping community, and asking people 'if you do see people out at night, do let us know'," he said.
"To be fair, it is getting better and we're getting there with the information but it's about being able to tie it all together to intelligence we can act on."