Deer poaching is on the rise across the UK, with as many as 50,000 deer killed illegally each year by poachers.  These poachers are normally part of organised criminal gangs (OCGs), who shoot deer at night, either while they are dazed by bright torch lights, or using  sophisticated thermal imaging rifle scopes. 

Gangs are involved in deer poaching as the sale of the carcasses to unscrupulous outlets can be lucrative. 

While poaching may conjure images of old-fashioned countrymen taking ‘one for the pot’, the truth is much more disturbing. 


  • Have no regard for the welfare of deer.  Deer are routinely chased down by dogs at night or are killed out of season, even when they are close to breeding.
  • Regularly intimidate and threaten landowners and members of the public when challenged.  Poachers are often involved in armed trespass.
  • Have no regard for private property, driving across farmer’s fields and destroying crops.
  • Are part of criminal gangs, often with links to violence and other areas of crime.

What to do if you encounter poachers

  • If you witness poaching, call 999 immediately.  Do not approach the poachers.
  • Mention that you are witnessing a wildlife crime, and if applicable, that some of the perpetrators are armed.
  • Make a note of any vehicle number plates.
  • Make a note of the incident number and make sure you mention that this is ‘poaching’ so that the incident is recorded in rural crime statistics correctly.
  • Describe the location as best as possible, using the app ‘What 3 Words’ if you have it downloaded.