Authorities in Spain and Portugal have launched an investigation into an illegal Christmas hunt that resulted in images showing the bodies of 540 mostly deer and wild boar strewn across the ground.
The animals were slaughtered during the clandestine hunt on the private Torre Bela estate in the municipality of Azambuja in Portugal’s Lisbon district.
The country’s Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF) is currently investigating the incident, in which the hundreds of animals were shot dead over the week ending 20th December.
According to local media, the hunt was advertised on social media by some of the reported 16 hunters from Spain who participated in the massacre.
The ICNF says it had no prior knowledge of the hunt, which took place on a tract of land designated as a ‘tourist hunting area’, and only subsequently found out about it through social media.
Given the sheer numbers of animals killed, the ICNF launched the investigation along with the tourist hunting area’s managing body to “investigate the facts and possible illicit acts in accordance with the legislation in force”.
The municipal authorities of Azambuja are also looking into the destination of the dead animals.
Animal welfare is salient issue in the southern European country, with the animal-rights political party People–Animals–Nature gaining a seat in the Portuguese Parliament in 2015 and gaining three more in 2019.