POLICE are urging residents to remain vigilant over winter after three deer were shot dead by poachers.

Rural crime officers responded to an incident on January 3 at around 3.30pm where three deer were killed in Little Yeldham Road, Great Yeldham.

Residents nearby reported hearing shots minutes before the three deer were found on private land.

However, despite a search of the area, no suspects or vehicles could be located.

Now police are asking communities, especially in rural areas, to be vigilant throughout winter, when daylight hours are shorter, as poachers tend to carry out their crimes in darkness.

PC Neil Fenn, of the Essex Police Rural Engagement Team, said: “At the moment, crimes such as this are thankfully relatively rare in Essex. But there is no room for complacency.

“We work alongside other forces and are aware rural crimes do not stop at county borders and we are determined to keep wildlife in our county safe.

Read more: Police appealing for witnesses after three deer shot and killed

“That’s why we are appealing to the rural communities in Essex to stay vigilant – especially during the darker evenings which come with British winter.

“Poachers tend to work at night because darkness is their friend but there are tell-tale signs to look out for such as cars being parked in rural locations where you wouldn’t expect them to be or people dressed in camouflage.

“We need people to understand this is illegal and if you see it you should report it on 101 or, in an emergency, 999.”

Anyone with information on the deer shooting in Great Yeldham on Sunday, January 3 are asked to call call 101 and quote incident number 171 3 January.