Lancashire Police has issued a warning that protests against organised shoots must be peaceful after making four arrests.
It comes as part of an ongoing investigation into the damage caused at two local sporting estates as well as snares, traps and a trail camera being reported stolen.
I would like to remind the public we treat wildlife crime just as seriously as other crimes and we will target anyone involved in illegal activityPC Andrew Massingham
The two-month investigation at the Bleasdale and Abbeystead Estates came to a conclusion when a 16-year -old girl, a 20-year-old woman, an 18-year-old man and a 45-year- old man, all from Leyland, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage and theft. All four have been released on police bail until November 2 pending further enquiries.
And now police are warning that anyone found to be disrupting or sabotaging organised hunting events with unlawful activity will be “dealt with robustly”.
PC Andrew Massingham of the Lancaster Neighbourhood Policing Team and Wildlife Officer said: “These arrests come as part of an on-going investigation following a number of incidents which have interfered with the management of the estates affected.
“This week also marks the start of the grouse shooting season throughout the UK. I would like to remind the public that we treat wildlife crime just as seriously as other crimes and we will target anyone involved in illegal activity.
“Similarly, whilst people may wish to express their objections towards organised shoots through peaceful protest, they may not do so by disrupting such events.
“We are committed to tackling rural crime and our wildlife officers will continue to work closely with the community to ensure that any unlawful activity is dealt with robustly.”
The red grouse hunting season started last week and the black grouse will be available to be hunted from Thursday, August 20.
Both seasons run until Thursday, December 10.
Restrictions mean that grouse cannot be killed on Sundays and game cannot be shot at from one hour after sunset until one hour before sunrise.