Banbridge Police have refuted suggestions that a stag involved in a road traffic collision on the A1 yesterday may have been chased onto the dual carriageway by members of a hunt.
The road was closed southbound between the Rathfriland Road off slip and the Outlet retail park for a time on Wednesday afternoon after the stag got onto the road and was struck by a car.
Police called a vet to the incident and the injured animal had to be put down.
Initial reports suggested that the stag had been shot. However, police later confirmed that it had been euthanised using an injection.
“Thankfully no people were hurt on this occasion, but a foot or so either side here and this could have ended up going through a windscreen,” a PSNI spokesperson said.
Shortly after the incident a number of people took to Facebook posting claims that the stag may have jumped a fence onto the dual carriageway after being chased by a hunt. However, police have said there is no evidence to support such claims.
Responding to the Facebook posts, a PSNI spokesperson said: “We’re not aware of a hunt involvement, and witnesses who we’ve spoken to who saw it jump out of a field didn’t report any hunt involvement. By their very nature, wild animals roam.
“It would be greatly appreciated if people stopped trying to make this about something it’s not. A wild animal got onto the A1, caused an accident, was injured and risked causing further accidents, a vet was called (better equipped and, being on scene, better informed than us and anyone commenting here) and decided the correct thing to do was shoot the animal.”
The officer’s Facebook post also clarified why police officers at the scene of the crash hadn’t shot the stag themselves, rather than waiting for a vet.
“As for why we didn’t shoot it, it’s a big animal, and our sidearms wouldn’t have much effect against it. A load of us firing 9mm into a stag would cause it a massive amount of upset and further distress. It would also I imagine cause many of you a massive amount of upset. If we had had to, we would have, and indeed the guys on the ground knew there was a point which, if crossed, they would have had to do what they could to protect the lives of motorists. However they were able to contain it until a vet arrived and established that it was untreatable,” the officer said.