POLICE are asking people living in the Forest of Dean to call in any suspected incidents of poaching over the winter months.

Forestry England, which manages parts of the land, has reported an increase in the number of reported incidents since the clocks went back in October. 

Any firearm discharges after dark or at weekends on land managed by Forestry England is likely to be poachers.

Members of the public are being asked to report any sounds of firearms during these times to the police.

Gloucestershire Constabulary has a dedicated team of rural and wildlife crime officers working across the whole force area, and they are keen to work with the local communities to tackle this criminality.

Inspector Nick Cook has urged members of the public to come forward to tell police of any incidents so that officers can take the appropriate action.

He said: "Wildlife law is complicated and it can be hard to know whether something is a crime and whether, or when, to involve the police. We'd rather you contacted us and we investigate, than not hear from you."

A Forestry England spokesperson said: "We are working closely with the police sharing information and intelligence regarding poaching and other illegal activities and helping support anti-poaching patrols.

"Poaching is an ongoing problem and there is generally an increase when the clocks go back, with a peak in activity between November and Christmas.

"We encourage the public to report any concerns of suspicious or illegal activity to the police using their 101 number for non-emergencies, or 999 if they suspect an illegal act is in progress."

If you think a wildlife crime is being committed then you can also contact police by reporting a crime online website: https://www.gloucestershire.police.uk/ro/report/ocr/af/how-to-report-a-crime/.

You can report wildlife crime anonymously to Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111 or online https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information/forms/give-information-anonymously