A GIANT red stag, the biggest on Burley Estate, has been shot dead.
It is believed that the creature, named The Monarch - a title that came courtesy of his imposing 16-point set of antlers - was shot by poachers.
The Monarch, believed to have been about 16 years old, was shot close to his herd of about 40 deer that live in Burley Park, maybe by someone trying to get his prized antlers.
Sadly the giant stag did not die outright and was found drowned in the nearby lake.
The Monarch could regularly be spotted by visitors on the New Forest Deer Safari, where a tractor would tow nature lovers to feed the wild herd.
The owner of the deer herd Dan Tanner said the death of The Monarch was a “great loss”.
He said: “I think a poacher shot him for his fine head, which would have been a trophy head that could have fetched thousands. That’s what it seems.
He added: "I think the stag ran off because the bullet didn't kill it outright. It's a great loss."
Police are investigating the shooting and appealing for any witnesses or anyone with information about the Monarch's death to come forward.
A Hampshire Police spokesman said: "It is believed that the red stag, the biggest on the estate, was shot between Friday, February 14 and Sunday, February 16.
"Anyone who may have witnessed the incident, or has any information which would assist in confirming the circumstances of the stag’s death should contact the Country Watch team."
Ring Lyndhurst police station on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 with information.