A deer has died after it was apparently attacked by a pack of dogs in a suspected coursing incident in Aberdeen.
The animal was found dead in woodland near to Sheddocksley Sports Centre on Springhill Road on Sunday, 17 February.
The Scottish SPCA said the animal had “injuries consistent with deer coursing” and that the injuries indicated an attack by a pack of dogs. The charity appealed for information about the incident.
Scottish SPCA deputy chief superintendent Tom Gatherer said: “The Scottish SPCA is working with Police Scotland to catch those who are hunting animals such as deer by setting their dogs on them.
“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.
“Anyone with information should contact our animal helpline on 03000 999 999 where calls can be taken anonymously.”
Earlier this year, eyewitnesses reported seeing three men wearing camouflage letting their dogs kill a deer at Forthquarter Park in Edinburgh.
The men were reported to have arrived in a van and took the animal’s body with them when they left.
Figures released in December 2017, the most recent available, showed a doubling in the number of crimes involving hunting with dogs.
There were 44 such offences during 2015-16, an annual increase of 24 and the highest number recorded in five years, according to the Scottish Government.
Hare coursing accounted for 38 of the offences, with only a few involving fox hunting and deer hunting.
Almost half of the incidents were recorded in the north-east of Scotland.
Commenting on the latest incident, Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports in Scotland, said: “It’s sickening to hear of this type of mindless cruelty carried out by individuals with absolutely no regard for the welfare of animals.
“The suffering and distress this deer would have endured before its death is horrific and we hope anyone with any information regarding this crime will come forward to help bring the wildlife criminals responsible to justice.”