Polish rescuers recovered the bodies of a herd of drowned deer on Thursday after illegal poachers scared the animals with firecrackers and drove them onto a frozen lake where the ice then broke.
The rescuers, from the Szczecin fire brigade, managed to rescue 13 deer from the lake, partly by lassoing them with ropes, but an estimated 19 others are believed to have drowned.
“For over 20 deer to fall into the water because of someone’s stupidity, I’ve never seen anything like this. The rescuers and I, we just stood there and cried,” said Arkadiusz Borowski, a local hunter who took part in the rescue operation.
“Today we want to report a suspected crime, animal cruelty,” Borowski added. “We have received credible, detailed information, including the registration plate numbers and names of the people involved.”
The rescuers used flat-bottom boats and sledges to help bring the dead animals to the surface of the water, concerned to ensure that the corpses do not end up contaminating the lake.
“The animals were in a herd, this made the operation more complicated but we managed, after hard, physical effort,” Tomasz Kubiak, a spokesman for the Szczecin fire brigade, told Polish private broadcaster TVN.