AN investigation has been launched after the remains of a deer entangled in an illegal snare were found in Dunster Woods.

Two female walkers made the grim discovery near a footpath on the Crown Estate-owned land and reported it to the League Against Cruel Sports, and Avon and Somerset Police.

The fallow deer had been caught tightly around its neck, probably causing it to strangle itself to death as it struggled to escape.

Near the remains lay two other deer skulls, suggesting they had fallen victim to the same snare, which was made of multi-stranded wire.

One end of the device was tied to a tree and the loop was set in a gap in a hedge.

Deer snares are illegal under the Deer Act of 1991.

Paul Tillsely, head of investigations with the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “The fact that this snare was secured high in a tree with the loop across a large gap in the hedge suggests it was deliberately set for deer, which is a criminal offence.

“The two nearby deer skulls would also support this theory.”

A new high seat, typically used to shoot deer, was also found 50m away from the snare in the woods.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: “We were only recently made aware of the death of the deer, which we believe happened about four weeks ago.

“We’re appealing for witnesses to come forward and have opened a crime report.

“If people have any information they should call Minehead Police on 101.”

A spokesman for The Crown Estate said: “We’re looking into reports of an illegal snaring in Dunster Woods and would encourage anyone with any information to contact us.

“As a substantial land owner in the area we work closely with the police to provide support in tackling this kind of rural crime.”

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