RESTAURANTS are being warned not to buy poached game after Battle police received reports of ‘suspicious activity’ in the countryside.
Game dealers, restaurateurs, hotels and public houses are being advised to check they are not buying illegally killed game.
They are being encouraged not to purchase meat from unknown persons and immediately report suspicious gatherings around vans or 4x4s in car parks.
Dealers in game should show legal documentation for the sale of meat.
PCSO Daryl Holter, Rother Wildlife Crime Officer, said: “We have received reports from members of the public that they have seen lights and heard loud noises coming from woods in rural areas of Rother and as a result we have stepped up patrols of these areas.
“Commercial poaching is a serious problem on various levels and is not a faceless crime.
“There is a real risk to public health as meat is introduced illegally into the system and as many of the deer are shot at night using high-powered weapons there is an obvious risk to public safety.
“There is also concern for the animals not being killed in a clinical and professional manner as many are killed with weapons not suitable for the size of the animal.
“Poaching is a secretive business, often carried out at night and in remote locations but if caught, poachers can be prosecuted for offences under the Deer Act 1991 as well as for firearm offences.
“We would encourage anyone to contact the police with any information that would help in catching illegal poachers, especially if they have been offered venison from sources other than bona fide dealers.”
Anyone who suspects illegal poaching is taking place is asked to call Sussex Police on 0845 60 70 999 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.