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Thursday, 24 January, 2002, 15:56 GMT
Deer 'butchered' by dogs
Fallow Deer - Picture courtesy natural-history-pictures.co.uk
The herd have been at Tatton Park for centuries
Police are hunting thugs who deliberately set a pack of hunting dogs on to deer in a National Trust park.

Four stags and three hinds were savaged in two separate attacks at Tatton Park in Cheshire.

Rangers believe the attacks were carried out not by wild animals but by dogs specially trained to bring a deer down and savage its throat.

Estate manager Tim Birtles said that the only explanation for the attacks was someone gaining "perverse pleasure" from watching animals fight to the death.

Tatton Park
Tatton Park is a popular National Trust attraction

He said: "There is no apparent sign that these animals have been attacked for food or were the victims of a frenzied killing.

"It would appear as though they had been deliberately savaged and killed by dogs trained to do just that."

"There are signs on the ground that the stags have put up a tremendous fight and we believe that they have been killed by someone for the sheer perverse pleasure of watching that fight for life.

"It goes without saying that everyone here is shocked and disgusted that anyone could get pleasure out of watching these animals being deliberately butchered."

The dead stags, which were three-year-olds weighing about 300lbs, were found on Thursday morning.

Foot-and-mouth

Two hinds were savaged last week and a third drowned after panicking and running into a lake.

All the animals were part of a 600-strong herd of red and fallow deer which has roamed the 2,000-acre estate since it was introduced in Medieval times.

Earlier this month the herd was released from a special enclosure built to protect the animals from contracting foot-and-mouth.

A spokesman for Cheshire Police said: "We will work closely with Tatton Park staff in an attempt to apprehend the people responsible for this horrific and senseless act of cruelty."


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28 Jun 00 | Wales
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