A man has been arrested after a wild deer in Devon was shot in the head with a crossbow, police said.
Officers were called to the Plymbridge Woods in Plymouth to reports that a member of the public had seen a man in hunting gear allegedly acting suspiciously, and moments later saw a deer running away with what looked like a crossbow bolt in its head.
A 25-year-old man was later arrested on suspicion of possessing an offensive weapon in a public place, and is now assisting both the police and the RSPCA with their inquiries.
A police spokesman said a joint search operation had been launched to try and track down the deer, which could still be alive.
Sgt Ryan Canning, Plymouth's wildlife crime officer, told BBC News: “It is barbaric and it's also extremely dangerous.
“This is public woodland on a Sunday morning. There's always children and dog walkers around.
“We know that the deer has a crossbow bolt in its head, but we don't know the severity of the injury. It's possible that we could still save the animal if we found it, but if it is deceased we would need to recover the bolt.”
Police requested that members of the public in the Plymbridge, Leigham and Wrigley's factory areas be on the lookout for a deer “with an injury consistent with having being hit by a crossbow bolt”. They asked that people do not approach the animal, and instead note its location and contact Devon and Cornwall Police on 101.