1. ITV Report

Elks stolen from Yeovil farm

Police say the elks were taken from a field near Yeovil at the end of last week Photo: ITV News

A police investigation has been launched after six large deer were stolen from a farm in Somerset.

Officers say the elks were taken from a field near Yeovil at the end of last week.

It's believed the thieves cut a gap in the boundary fence, near West Coker, allowing the mammals to be transported away. Police said two further elks escaped of their own accord through the fence following the raid.

Pc Jackie Poole, of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, said: "This is an unusual theft and would have required a vehicle, and probably quite a bit of time, to complete.

"I would ask people in the area at the time to cast their mind back and see if they remember seeing anything suspicious.

"I am particularly interested in speaking to anyone who has been approached about elks or elk meat or anyone who saw a vehicle in the area which was capable of stealing these animals. It is possible that dogs were used to help herd the animals."

It's thought the elks may have stolen for their meat Credit: ITV News

As well as elks, there are also bison on the farm.

Farmer Paul Richards said: "It would have been a catastrophe if the bison had got through the fence which they had cut. We are adjoining the A30, a main road with busy rush hour traffic. There could have been loss of life. We were on site to prevent everything, and it's absolutely imperative that there is 24 hour surveillance and somebody running a farm that holds a dangerous wild animals' licence."

It's believed the attack was carried out during stormy weather some time on Friday night.

Police want to speak to anybody who may have seen a vehicle in the area at the time or who has been offered elk meat for sale.

Wild breeds farmers can charge a premium for the highly sought after meat they produce. But they face not only the usual problems livestock farmers have of high feed prices when harvests fail but also the risk of people intent on attacking their animals with guns and knives as well as action from animal rights activists.

Paul Richards: "There are no traces of blood or remnants of the elk, as there was last year, we had four elk taken last year which was poachers. This year it looks as if it could be someone acting out of malice, cutting the fence or it could be animal activists."

The farm is now on high alert in case of another attack. Meanwhile six female elk have either been slaughtered or are roaming the open countryside near Yeovil.

Watch the full report by David Woodland here: