Operation targets wildlife crime in Cumbria
Police and conservation experts in Cumbria have launched the biggest ever operation to tackle poaching and wildlife crime in the county.
Operation Samurai will involve Cumbria Police, Forestry Commission, Environment Agency as well as local gamekeepers and landowners.
Teams of up to 40 will target poaching hot spots and conduct vehicle spot checks in a series of night operations.
Cumbria Police receive about 30 reports of wildlife crime every month.
The operation will focus on the south of the county, where deer poaching has become a problem.
Cumbria Police wildlife officer Pc John Baldwin, said: "Poaching is a big problem for rural neighbourhoods and farming communities as it can seriously affect people's livelihoods.
"It is a lucrative crime that can often be linked to other rural or wildlife crime due to the local knowledge offenders build up and the fact that they operate during the hours of darkness.
"This operation has been launched to reassure rural communities that we are listening to their concerns.
"But we need the ongoing support of these communities to be able to build up a bank of information about who is committing these crimes, where and when."
As well as patrols, local hoteliers, restaurants and caterers are being warned not to accept poached venison.
Organised criminals are thought to be behind many poaching incidents, with a red deer carcass fetching more than £200.