A farmer was left horrified after illegal poachers killed a deer in a barbaric attack on arable land in Cambridgeshire.
The deer was shot with catapults, chased by dogs across farmland and run over by a 4×4 car.
The heartless thugs cut out one of the dead animal’s eyeballs in what the farmer believes was taken as proof and a “memento” of the killing.
The attack happened overnight Thursday (23 January) at Newton Farms in Newton, near Cambridge.
Farmer George Hurrell made the gruesome discovery of the deer’s carcass on Friday morning (24 January) and alerted police. He said the estate’s gamekeeper had been left distraught.
“Hare and deer coursing is out of control in this part of Cambridgeshire. It’s now a nightly occurrence,” Mr Hurrell told Farmers Weekly.
“There is not a single field here that has not suffered a coursing or poaching incident.
“You can dig trenches and put up gates, but if criminals are determined to drive through hedges, there is not a lot you can do.”
Mr Hurrell said the coursers mounted a grass verge and smashed through wooden posts, which had been erected to keep out Subaru-type 4x4s.
Their vehicle was then driven across a field of winter wheat which had been direct drilled as part of a crop trial. “That’s all been thrown out of the window. There will be yield damage for sure,” said Mr Hurrell.
Police have been increasing patrols in the area in recent nights, according to Mr Hurrell. But he is calling for tougher legislation to prevent similar attacks in the future.
“Magistrates need to pull themselves together and stop issuing £200 fines for hare coursing. It’s peanuts,” said Mr Hurrell.
“The same people are just coming into Cambridgeshire, committing these crimes and then getting let off with a fine. They are then being let out to carry out further attacks.”
The law also needs updating to allow police to recoup the kennelling costs for dogs seized from criminals who carry out coursing offences, he added.
A Cambridgeshire Constabulary spokesperson said: “We were called on 24 January with reports of criminal damage to crops and a fence at Home Farm, Newton, Cambridge.
“A crime was raised and is pending further investigative opportunities.”