Dozens of deer are on the loose after a herd was taken from a farm near Chorley.
Police are investigating after the 60-strong red deer herd, worth around £65,000, were released from the farm on the border of Adlington and Heath Charnock.
There have been several sighting of them roaming in the area, and drivers have been warned to watch out for deer on the roads.
There has also been a warning that the meat is not fit for human consumpion, as the deer had been recently treated with a chemical wormer.
The herd, from Hole House Farm in Chorley Road, was reported roaming around the area, posing a danger to the traffic on the nearby M61.
Lorraine Elwood, Lancashire Constabulary’s Rural Policing and Wildlife Crime coordinator said: “We are investigating after around 60 deer were taken or released from a farm.
“At present we are unsure of the exact circumstances of their disappearance.
“What we can confirm is that these deer have recently been wormed and are not fit for human consumption, if they entered the food chain, they could pose a real risk to human health.
“If you are a local business, please make sure your meat is coming from a reputable source, if you are a consumer, please make sure that the supplier can provide you with details of the meat’s origin.”
“We are aware that there have been rumours saying that the deer would be culled if they were found. I can confirm that this is not true.”
She added: “Drivers in the area should be alert to the dangers of any stray deer that may be wandering on roads and any sightings should be reported to the police. We do not have any wild red deer in this area.”
Bill Toward had been walking his dog in Rivington when he met the owner of the herd early in the morning on Tuesday, November 21.
He said: Of the total herd of 60, five of the adults are already dead and the fauns are dying because they have lost their mothers,” he said.
“These were farmed deer and whatever anybody thinks about this practice, what someone has just done is to cause them a lot more pain and anguish before they prematurely die.”
Previous owner of the farm, which is next to the Cardwell Arms pub, Thomas Gregory told the Post that farming deer had not been popular with the locals. He said: “The deer were for venison. It didn’t go down well with lots of people.”
One resident in Babylon Lane, Heath Charnocksaid: “My wife woke up at about five in the morning and she found these deer in the car park, about a dozen of them.
“She thought she was imagining things.
“We had thought they had come down from Rivington.”
Writing on Facebook, policeman Craig McCabe, who is dealing with the investigation, said: “These animals are domesticated and will find it difficult to survive if they are in the wild.
“If they have been let loose then they are unlikely to be able to survive in the conditions, could be hit by cars, killed by farmers whose land they arrive on, poached.”
Taking to Facebook, many have complained about the conditions the animals were being kept in.
However PC McCabe said: “I have attended and looked at the living conditions which I am happy were more than adequate for the animals and they were being well looked after.”