Deer being mauled and killed by dogs on walks
- Credit: Charles Smith-Jones
Distressing scenes of dogs mauling and killing muntjacs are being repeatedly witnessed and heard by countryside residents.
They are asking dog owners to stay off private land and to keep dogs on leads where there are signs stating this, where a footpath is provided.
Several women, who live in properties on the outskirts of Saffron Walden, said the screams of muntjacs being attacked and killed are "just awful".
When challenged, dog walkers have told the residents they don't care.
One of the women has witnessed attacks multiple times.
She said: "During this lockdown we have had owners who have not had control over their dogs. They have run after the muntjacs and killed them outright.
"The first attack my daughter witnessed. Myself and my husband had to fight it (the dog) to let go."
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A separate resident heard a muntjac screaming and saw a dog savaging the animal.
The dog had no collar for her to grab and she said the owner did not intervene. The muntjac managed to escape but the woman fears it will not survive its injuries.
She said dogs should be kept under control, and owners needed to be more aware.
"The screaming was beyond anything I have heard before."
The British Deer Society said encouraging a dog to chase deer is an offence under the Hunting Act 2004, and the Dogs Act 1871 still allows for civil proceedings against the owners of dogs that are dangerous and not kept under proper control, where there is unintended pursuit.
The spokesperson added: "Even the best trained dog may not be able to resist chasing a running deer or other animal, and the consequences can be fatal for the victim while extremely distressing for onlookers.
"Muntjac can also have especially vulnerable fawns at any time of year though in spring, with so many other birds and animals either sitting on eggs or rearing their young, even more care is needed.
"The British Deer Society strongly recommends that however well trained they are considered to be, dogs should be kept on leads in all places where deer or other sensitive species might be present."
Essex Police said they were aware.