Three Coffs Harbour men accused of trespass, illegal hunting.
Three Coffs Harbour men accused of trespass, illegal hunting. Contributed

Men charged after deer found dead on rural property

A NUMBER of men have been arrested after three large red stag deer were found dead inside an enclosure on a rural property.

Three Coffs Harbour men have been accused of trespassing onto the Bingara property in early March, killing the privately owned deer with the intention of taking their heads and antlers as trophies.

It had also been reported in early February that two men in camouflage clothing had been seen allegedly trespassing on a property in the Murrurundi area near a group of deer, one carrying a hunting bow.

Rural crime officers from the New England region began investigating and, following enquiries, executed search warrants at two Coffs Harbour homes with the help of local police yesterday.

They seized electronic storage devices, firearms, clothing and deer heads and antlers.

The occupant of the house, a 29-year-old man, was charged over killing the deer with intent to steal, firing a gun into a building or inclosed land, entering the private property to hunt without the owner's consent, and not notifying the change of address on where the firearm was being stored.

After speaking to the man, investigators stopped a Ford Ranger on the Pacific Hwy at Coffs and spoke to two men inside, aged 63 and 35.

Officers searched the vehicle and seized firearms, ammunition, mobile phones, drums containing diesel, camouflage clothing, keys for heavy machinery, and a game hunting and firearms licence.

They were charged with killing the deer with intent to steal, and entering the private land to hunt animals without the consent of the owner.

The older man is also facing further charges of possessing suspected stolen goods, hunting game animals without a licence, and a second count of entering private land to hunt animals without the owner's consent.

All three men will appear at Bingara Local Court on May 22.