People urged to report gunshots as suspected poachers target Forest of Dean

Wild boar and deer populations are controlled by legal culls carried out by the Forest Commission.

People living in the Forest of Dean are being urged to call in any suspected incidents of poaching over the winter months.

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

Poaching is where hunting takes place without legal permission from the landowner.

Gloucestershire Police said any firearm discharges after dark or at weekends on land managed by Forestry England is likely to be poachers.

Officers want members of the public to report any sounds of firearms during these times so that the police can take appropriate action.

"Wildlife law is complicated and it can be hard to know whether something is a crime and whether, or when, to involve the police," Inspector Nick Cook said.

He added: "We'd rather you contacted us and we investigate, than not hear from you."

Gloucestershire Police has a dedicated team of rural and wildlife crime officers working across the whole force area.

Officers said they are keen to work with the community to tackle poaching in the area.

A Forestry England spokesperson said: "There is generally an increase in poaching when the clocks go back, with a peak in activity between November and Christmas.

"We are working closely with the police sharing information and intelligence regarding poaching and other illegal activities and helping support anti-poaching patrols."