Baby deer found with its throat slit in Ribble Valley after gamekeepers heard 'screams of distress'

A court has heard how a baby deer was found with its throat slit on land in Bolton-by-Bowland, after gamekeepers heard it screaming in distress.

Friday, 17th January 2020, 11:45 am

The dead fawn, thought to be about eight months old, had an injured leg, after being felled by a dog.

Burnley magistrates were told the gruesome discovery came after three men, with dogs, went on a night-time, illegal hunting expedition, on private property at Muse Hall Estate.

Two of the party fled, leaving Kyle Snaith to “carry the can” over the killing of the deer, on December 16th. The 25-year-old dad-of-one has a caution for poaching from 2015.

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Burnley Magistrates' Court

Mrs Alex Mann (prosecuting) said at about 10pm gamekeepers were on the estate and heard the screaming. They went to investigate and on a thermal imaging camera saw three figures and two dogs. The deer was on the floor and the three figures and two dogs were seen moving away from it. The main gamekeeper called the police.

The prosecutor told the court the gamekeepers located a van, which had dog leads in, parked on a track.

She continued: “Two males returned to the van and a third stood a little way away. The two males spoke to the gamekeepers, saying they were looking for a dog. They were told police were on their way. They were told also that the deer had been sighted and seized and there was no point in them backtracking and trying to get away with what they were doing.

Mrs Mann said the deer’s throat had been slit and it had an injury to its leg, which appeared to be from a dog. She said: “It appears the dog had felled the deer and it had been dispatched by the person with it.”

Mr Clive Rees (defending) told the hearing: “He has been left holding the proverbial baby, as his two friends made off and were never apprehended. His interest is rabbiting.

“One of his colleagues released his dog and the dog took hold of a deer by the back leg. That deer was injured. Mr Snaith saw the injury for himself. His friend went up and there was really no option but to put the deer out of its misery. At that point, the gamekeepers intervened and everyone ran off.

“Mr Snaith didn’t do a very good job of running off. He did walk away and he was apprehended. He had his two dogs with him. They were not the dog that had pursued the deer.”

The solicitor said the two other men were not caught.

Mr Rees added: “He tells me he is not prepared to say who they are because of repercussions.”

He added Snaith, who was father to a small baby, lived with his mum. He was sacked after not turning up for work the next day.

Snaith, of Kibble Grove, Brierfield, admitted entering land in Clitheroe, without the consent of the owner or occupier in search or pursuit of a deer, with intent to take, kill or injure. He was fined £200, with £85 costs and a £32 victim surcharge.

The Bench chairman told him: “You have caused suffering to an animal, which is not acceptable in this day and age and has a lot of public concern.”