A deer has died after it was apparently attacked by a pack of dogs in a suspected hunting incident.
The animal was found dead in woodland near to Sheddocksley Sports Centre on Springhill Road in Aberdeen on Sunday, February 17.
The Scottish SPCA said it had “injuries consistent with deer coursing” and that the injuries indicated an attack by a pack of dogs.
Investigations are under way, with both the charity and police involved.
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The charity’s deputy chief superintendent Tom Gatherer said: “Deer coursing is an illegal and barbaric crime which causes the deer horrific pain and suffering and a great deal of distress.
“Our key aim is to help tackle the killing of deer by dogs and reduce the number of animals that are exposed to suffering, which we are able to do when we disrupt organised hunting gangs.”
Local councillor Steve Delaney said he was “absolutely shocked” to hear of the incident, while raising concerns about what could have happened if a child had been caught in the chase.
He said: “If indeed dogs have been set on a deer it’s cruel, inhumane and sickening.
“What’s more, if dogs have been trained to do this, I shudder to think what might have happened if it had been a child.
“I would urge anyone with information to come forward to the police so those responsible can be apprehended.”
Fellow Sheddocksley councillor David Cameron described the culprits’ behaviour as “barbaric.”
He said: “For the Scottish SPCA and Police Scotland to launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of the deer, irrespective of the outcome of that investigation is worrying.
“I am disappointed that such barbaric behaviour would appear to be occurring in our city.”
Animal coursing has proved to be prevalent in the north-east, with animals hunted also including hares, rabbits and foxes.
Last year the number of offences involving hunting with dogs was at an all-time high at 44, prompting North East MSP Peter Chapman to call for stricter punishments.
He said yesterday: “”If the Scottish SPCA’s suspicions are correct, this was a brutal act with malicious intent.
“I would ask anyone with information to come forward, so the perpetrators can face justice.
“In the north-east, more crimes of hunting with dogs were committed last year than ever before.
“But there have been very few convictions for offences of this type.
“Now is the time for stronger powers to prosecute poachers.”
Anyone with information which could help the SSPCA investigation should contact the charity’s animal helpline on 03000 999 999 where calls can be taken anonymously.