A HIGHER police presence is needed in rural areas to stop poachers after 50 dead animals were dumped outside a village shop near Stockbridge, councillors have said.

As previously reported, the bodies of around 50 dead hares, as well as a barn owl and a kestrel, were found outside the Broughton Community Shop in High Street.

The police were called at 6.20am on Friday, March 15. A spokesperson has since given an update: "Officers investigating a number of dead animals left outside a shop in Broughton have located a burnt out Suzuki Grand Vitara which is believed to be linked to the incident.

"We are still asking the public to send us CCTV or dash cam images of any cars matching this description seen in the Test Valley area around the time of the incident.

"Officers are following all possible lines of enquiry and will be in the area today to provide reassurance to local residents."

READ MORE: Dozens of dead animals dumped outside village shop in Broughton

This comes just one month after the dumping of dead animals in Awbridge last month.

It has been reported by the Mail Online that poachers could be doing such acts as a warning to farmers and rural communities.

Test Valley Borough Council Cllr Geoff Cooper, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman for Romsey and Southampton North, has spoken out about the shocking incident.

Hampshire Chronicle: Geoff Cooper by the TestGeoff Cooper by the Test (Image: Contributed)

He said: "If that is the case then quite frankly those poachers need to be brought to heal instantly. The fact that there may be groups of people out there who think that they can threaten and intimate our rural community is absolutely disgraceful.

He said he hopes that they face the "full weight of the law" and that it highlights some of the challenges that rural communities face with policing.

He added: "When I have spoken to members of the rural community, particularly the farmers, they are constantly targeted by criminals because they are seen as a soft touch. We have seen our policing numbers get cut back and this is what happens when they are not enough police out there to police our countryside".

Despite this he doesn't blame the police because they are "under a huge amount of pressure".

Test Valley Borough Council Cllr Alison Johnston described the incident as 'horrible'.

She said: "I think this incident does highlight the need for more police presence in rural areas. I realise the police have limited resources but unless this type of hateful incident is not met with justice being served it will happen again. 

"Unfortunately rural crime is hidden in a lot of cases and often underreported and it is unfortunate that it takes an incident like this to bring it to the forefront."

She continued: "I cannot understand the mentality of someone or some group who would do something outside a local shop. It is unfathomable the mentality of that person or group.

Hampshire Chronicle: Dozens of dead animals dumped outside village shop

"I do know that Broughton is resilient and the community will come together even more. It was so impactful to so many people and the photos that have been released are very upsetting."

It comes just a month after a deer, pheasants, and hares were among 25 carcasses left outside Awbridge Primary School, about five miles away.

SEE ALSO: Suzuki vehicle found after animals dumped outside Broughton shop

Following the grisly discovery on Friday, February 9, a police investigation was launched.

However, police have confirmed that the investigation has been put on hold due to a lack of lines of enquiry.

A spokesperson said: “We made enquiries following an incident on Friday 9 February, when a number of dead animals had been found in Danes Road, Awbridge.

“There are no active lines of enquiry, and the case has been filed pending any further information becoming available.

“Officers from across the force, including our dedicated Country Watch team, take reports of rural crime very seriously.”

Country Watch Sergeant Stuart Ross has said the incident in Broughton will not be tolerated.

He said: Those responsible will face the full force of the law and consequences for their actions. We are actively progressing all lines of enquiry to identify those offenders. 

“Crime in our rural communities can have a huge impact on the residents who live there, and on the countryside in general.

“Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary has a dedicated team of officers called Country Watch, whose main priority is to disrupt and tackle the crimes affecting our rural communities.

“We have a strong network of partners spanning the entire county, and together we deal with matters across the spectrum of rural offending, from organised criminal gangs who steal farming equipment, to offences on the river network and crimes against wildlife.

“As well as this specialist team of rural crime officers, our Neighbourhood and District Policing teams also work within these rural communities.

“Our main message to the public is to continue to report these crimes and incidents that occur. If you see any suspicious activity, vehicles or people in your area please get in touch. Your information could assist us in building our intelligence picture to then effectively deploy our resources to disrupt and target those involved in rural crime.”

Anyone with information about the latest incident should call 101, quoting reference 44240111410

You can also report information online at hampshire.police.uk.