Advertisement

Hampshire: Police investigating after dozens of dead animals dumped outside shop

People in a sleepy village in Hampshire say it is "horrifying" that dozens of dead animals were left strewn outside a shop.

Warning: This story contains images and descriptions readers may find distressing

The bodies of around 50 dead hares were discovered by a member of staff who had gone to open up Broughton Community Shop early on Friday morning.

"It was bedlam, it was just covered in dead hares, all the way across this paving here, horrifying," the shop's treasurer Mike Hensman told Sky News.

"And on the door there was a dead raptor, bird of prey, and an owl impaled on the door handles. And there was blood everywhere."

He described how shocked staff and villagers had to remove the remains.

"We cleared it all up, got the police in, had to wash all the windows down and get rid of everything.

"We got a local farmer here to get rid of all the dead hares and we just got on with business because that's what you do in a community. We're servicing the community. We just had to keep going."

He believes the shop was targeted because the entrance is "tucked away".

"A shop on the high street you wouldn't have been able to do it because there would have been cars going by. It's tucked away so someone's able to get a car round here and have a party with some dead hares. It's ridiculous.

"It made entertainment for them and caused a problem for us... it could have been anywhere."

It's not the first time the local area has been targeted. Carcasses of pheasants, chickens and hares were dumped outside Awbridge Primary School, around six miles from Broughton, last month.

Tony Lowry, a local wildlife and conservation warden, has pictures of dead hares discarded on roads close to Andover from about 18 months ago. He believes rival criminal groups who travel from outside the area are to blame.

"They just dump them and they do this for effect because someone's going to find them and they know it's going to cause outrage and it is - it's outrageous what they do," he said.

He believes it's driven by gambling: "Money, betting between groups, that's basically what it's about...How many animals they're going to kill in one night, how big an animal?

"We've had instances of deers' ears being chopped off to prove they've actually got them, taken them away. We find piles of animals with no ears, we have done in the past. Terrible.

"I'm a country person, I'm a gamekeeper and so my work does involve killing, but that is just killing for no reason at all."

Read more from Sky News:
Suspected gunman barricades himself with hostages after three shot dead
Neighbour describes aftermath of 'horrific' crossbow attack

Tim Bonner, chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, told Sky News poachers have been blighting rural communities across the country for decades.

The worst cases have been in Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire, he said, but it happens "anywhere where there are hares".

"There's a section of society who - whether it's poaching, theft - generally seem to disregard the law and do pose a really significant threat to rural communities," he said.

"This is on the edge of organised criminal gangs, and this is part of their leisure activity if you like."

But he said it is difficult to police.

"A conviction or prosecution for hare poaching is seen as a badge of honour amongst some people who are involved in this activity, you know, they really don't care about the criminal law," he said.

Hampshire police are investigating the incident in Broughton. The local Conservative councillor, Alison Johnston, says forces across the country need to focus more on rural crime.

"I would love the police to do more. I would love more attention to be paid to the types of rural crime that we're experiencing," she told Sky News.

"Sadly I think it's an issue of prioritisation. There's so much going on in the urban areas in terms of burglaries, I think sometimes rural crime is left to one side."

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Police said the animals were collected and officers are investigating.

The force is trying to identify the owners of a silver Suzuki Grand Vitara.