Lancashire has seen a significant rise in poaching reports, new figures revealed.
Police received 187 calls in the last three years – but over the same period only 15 people were convicted of poaching-related offences.
The figures, obtained under a Freedom of Information request, showed a 74 per cent rise in reports between 2011, when 43 calls were made, and 2013, when the number rose to 75.
The majority of calls, 52, relate to suspected deer poaching but a significant number, 34, relate to suspected fish poaching.
A further 31 calls relate to hunting with dogs while another 22 concerned potential hare coursing. There were also 10 reports of lamping, five of hunting with birds of prey, two of game poaching, and two of hunting with ferrets.
It comes just days after the Lancashire Badger Group charity, which monitors around 700 setts, revealed fears over an increase in torching in villages east of Blackpool.
Police in Broughton are investigating the discovery of disturbed habitat.
Lorraine Ellwood, the Rural Crime and Wildlife Coordinator for Lancashire Police, said: “It’s very difficult to say if there has been a rise in poaching. We think these figures are positive because it shows the public are more aware, and have the confidence to report suspicious activity.
“Many relate to deer poaching and we are working with the Food Standards Agency because this meat could be heading for the food chain –we can’t allow that to happen. It could be diseased and is untested.
“We would urge the public to call sooner rather than later because the better a description we get of vehicles, people and dogs, the more chance we stand of investigating it and prosecuting.”