Brutal deer killings shock community

Roe deer wander freely in Dunnikier golf course grounds. Pic: George McLuskie
Roe deer wander freely in Dunnikier golf course grounds. Pic: George McLuskie

Mystery still surrounds incidents of “barbaric” deer poaching at Dunnikier Park Golf Course in Kirkcaldy.

Police were notified on Wednesday last week when parts from three deer carcasses were discovered by shocked golfers.

Alistair Ferguson, club manager, told the Press one deer had been decapitated and the head left on the ground.

“In another case the body had been left near the first tee and then stripped,” he added.

“They’ve been butchered there and then, and then the good parts taken away.

“They are being used for meat.

“It’s quite horrific.”

Mr Ferguson said club staff had been questioned last week by police officers but were at a loss to explain what had happened.

“We’re not 100 per cent sure of what’s been going on here,” he commented.

“Seemingly there’s been people going around using snares and crossbows.

“This has happened in the last couple of weeks so obviously someone has been here.”

The park is populated by small roe deer, predating the establishment of the club in 1963.

“The deer have been here long before us and its nice seeing them,” said Mr Ferguson.

“They don’t just run off - they’re pretty tame.

“We had a member of staff a couple of weeks ago who said the deer just followed him up the road.

“Unfortunately we had some bampots who killed some with dogs in the past but I’ve been here for 14 years and never seen the likes of this before.”

He continued:“They can’t just take it to a butcher - no decent butcher is going to have that meat on their premises.

“It’s not like the old days when you could buy a carcass at the back door. It all has to be traced back to suppliers.

“I think this must have been for personal gain.”

The case is being investigated by PC Lindsay Kerr, Fife’s wildlife crime liaison officer, who acknowledged the find had been “very disturbing” for golfers.

“Poaching is probably the biggest wildlife crime across Scotland and this type of crime does unfortunately happen in Fife, although I’m pleased to say that we haven’t had an increase in reports here in recent times,” he commented.

“The motivation for poaching usually comes under the guise of ‘sport’, or even for meat which could be used or sold on.

“With regards to the deer remains found in the Dunnikier area, the parts with less meat were left behind.

“We’re currently working to establish if the animals were killed in the area or moved here so I’d urge anyone who may have seen suspicious activity in the Dunnikier or nearby areas recently to get in touch.

“There’s nothing to suggest how the deers were killed in this instance from the remains we have but we are continuing to try to establish this.

“Crossbows and snares can be used during poaching which is a concern as they cause unnecessary and significant suffering to the animal.”

PC Kerr said it was challenging to identify people involved in poaching, especially as these incidents usually take place in more rural or isolated locations and at night.

“However, we are committed to investigating all reports of poaching as thoroughly as possible using various investigative methods available to us,” he assured .

“Support and information from the public is vital so I would strongly urge people to come forward if they suspect this crime to be happening or have taken place.”

Meanwhile, the club sincerely hopes that the remaining deer will be left untouched.

“Obviously the deer are a great attraction at our park and we would like to see this stop,” said Mr Ferguson.

“It’s absolutely barbaric.”

If you have information which may help, contact PC Lindsay Kerr via 101 or report this anonymously to the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.