As times get harder in Britain’s cities, armed gangs are heading for the countryside – and stealing deer, salmon and rabbits to feed a burgeoning black market in food. Andy McSmith reports
Masked poachers caught in the act, hunting rabbits on private land
Once, the poacher was a man with big pockets in his raincoat sneaking on to an aristocrat’s land to steal game for his family pot. Now he is likely to be part of a gang from town, in it for hard cash, rampaging through the countryside with guns, crossbows or snares.
Police in rural areas across Britain are reporting a dramatic increase in poaching, as the rise in food prices and the reality of recession increases the temptation to deal in stolen venison, salmon, or rarer meat and fish.
Organised and sometimes armed gangs of poachers are accused of behaving dangerously, intimidating residents, causing damage to crops or to gates and fences. Squads have also been out in the countryside “lamping”, poachers using lights to transfix animals.