Two deer were found dead by a farmer in Lancashire (Wiki Commons)

Two deer have been found dead with their throats slit and innards removed.

Lancashire Police are looking for deer poachers after the animals were found in a shallow ditch on farmland in Clitheroe.

A farmer found the carcasses on the Dockber Laithe Farm in Sawley yesterday.

Mark Thomas, wildlife crime officer, said: "It would appear that these two deer have been attacked by dogs before having their innards partially removed and their throats cut.

"The carcasses have then been hidden away, most likely for the offenders to come back and collect them at a later date."

He said there has been a spike in the number of dears being poached illegally in Lancashire recently.

On one occasion, two deer were found to have been shot dead with a crossbow-type weapon.

Opportunists, not professionals

"The people responsible for these offences are clearly not professional deer stalkers and are causing unnecessary pain and suffering to wildlife around the county," Thomas said.

"They are also trespassing on private land and causing damage while conducting illegal activity.

"The culling of deer in Lancashire is required to control numbers and preserve habitat and woodland areas but it is controlled and is conducted by professional deer stalkers who are highly trained and insured to do so.

"No suffering is caused to the animals as they are trained marksmen who pride themselves on being professional in every way possible. The people who take deer in this illegal way using dogs are without a doubt not professionals but opportunists."

He urged butchers and restaurant owners to be vigilant and to contact the police if they are offered to buy cheap venison.

The most common method of deer poaching is coursing by dogs and following in four-wheel-drive cars. The deer are chased at high speed at night with high-powered lamps to avoid detection. Some poachers kill the animal by running them over.