A stark warning has gone out after a dog walker found deer butchered at a popular local beauty spot.
The man believes the animals could have been killed by a high-powered rifle – and fears the safety of late-night walkers could be in danger.
The 47-year-old, who does not wish to be named, is convinced the slaughtered deer are meant for the Christmas dinner table.
He said “I was walking along an old track, a public footpath at Yarrow Valley Park and saw a deer’s leg on the path – it was a knee joint down to its foot.
“It had been cut, you could tell it had been cut.”
The 47-year-old man reported the find to a park ranger.
“On the way back I thought I’d have a little mooch around.
“In the river I could see two more legs. I fished them out of the water. Then I found a dog food bag and inside was the remains of the deer.
“I fished it onto the side.”
He returned to the ranger to report the discovery. The ranger contacted the police.
Last Thursday, the man was out walking in the area again.
He said: “I was walking down the same place when within about 15ft, right beside the path, were the stomach and intestines of a deer.
“When people deer stalk you have to remove the gut within half an hour . . . it’s called gralloching.
“Somebody had killed it and opened it up and left the stomach and everything right by the path. On the ground you could see the contents of the stomach.
He added: “That’s two in just over a week.
“It’s somebody that’s got local knowledge and knows what they’re doing.
“One of my main concerns is, it’s right on the footpath and people walk down there with their dogs at midnight sometimes.
“They’ve got to be using proper rifles if they’re killing them that way - it’s a danger.
“And if there’s someone walking along and finding the remains it’s not very nice to see. For somebody to go on killing them and gut them and leave them . . .
“It’s nice for people to actually see the deer.”
Councillor Bev Murray, who looks after the parks for Chorley Council, said: “It is very disturbing and gruesome to find something like this in the park. The deer has obviously been butchered and its remains dumped, but we’ve no way of knowing what’s happened.
“Our Rangers do on occasions find dead deer in the park which have been hit on the road or been injured on fencing but something like this is very rare.”