> FSA Warns of ‘Risk to Food’ Resulting from Illegal Deer Poaching in Northern Ireland - The Food Safety Company FSA Warns of ‘Risk to Food’ Resulting from Illegal Deer Poaching in Northern Ireland - The Food Safety Company
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    Tuesday, 7 March 2017

    FSA Warns of ‘Risk to Food’ Resulting from Illegal Deer Poaching in Northern Ireland

    In Northern Ireland, wild deer are protected by law within the Wildlife (NI) Order 1985 (as amended), but sadly the introduction of the law failed to prevent to continuation of poaching in rural areas throughout the country. This is usually done either with the use of hunting dogs, or by shooting at night under spotlight, also known as lamping; the latter method is more common, but both are considered to be unnecessarily cruel and inhumane.

    Aside from the obvious pain inflicted upon the animal (poachers are more likely to injure an animal than achieve a clean kill, resulting in unnecessary suffering as the animal slowly starves or bleeds to death, according to the Police Service of Northern Ireland), the FSA are now warning that the practice “poses a risk to the public health” as poachers attempt to get the meat into food supply chains for financial gain.

    With a carcass bringing in anywhere between £70 and £200, depending on weight and species, the incentive for poachers is clear; the risk posed by the resulting meat may be less so.

    According to the FSA’s food fraud expert, Ed McDonald, the problem stems from the way in which the carcass is butchered and handled following a successful kill. The deer are often shot and butchered on site, before being left hanging from a tree overnight so that the poachers can return to collect it the next day with no gun in the vehicle, thereby lessening the chance of police interference. At no point is there any guarantee that the resulting venison has been handled, stored or transported hygienically, leading to the possible contamination of the meat which carries a significant safety risk should the meat make it into shops or restaurants.

    Unfortunately, poaching is highly difficult to detect and even more troublesome to prosecute. It is typically carried out late at night and in secluded areas, which presents difficulties from the beginning, and those that are found by law enforcement will often tell officers that they are lamping foxes, which is still legal in Northern Ireland.

    Sgt Mervyn Carlisle, one of many PSNI officers working to put a stop to poaching, is more concerned about the danger of poachers wielding firearms at night, as they cannot guarantee where the round will strike.

    “If you miss you really don't know what's behind that animal and how far that round will go,” he told the BBC, “I can tell you it can go another mile and a half. In that line of fire, how many victims could there be, other animals or even worse human beings?”

    The PSNI has issued the following advice to those who suspect that deer poaching may be occurring:
    If you suspect deer poaching is taking place contact your local police station on 0845 600 8000 immediately with the following details if possible:
    • Suspected activity, location and time
    • Description of the person(s) involved
    • Vehicle registration number(s), colour and model(s) if possible
    • Use of firearms, dogs etc

    Please ask for and retain a Police Command and Control number and record the date reported to police. NEVER approach suspects yourself. If you are aware of anyone who is involved in poaching or who is buying illegally taken game please notify your local police or contact Crimestoppers.

    Sam Bonson

    Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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