Corpses litter the ground in the forests of eastern Bavaria – foxes, lynx, stone martins and buzzards are among the dead. All of them deliberately poisoned or illegally gunned down by unknown killers, wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Thursday.
In one of the most shocking incidents to date, an endangered female lynx was shot in early May in the Bodenmais region near the Czech border. When her body was discovered, it was found she had been just about to give birth to three babies.
In other cases, whole groups of birds of prey, foxes and stone martins have been found poisoned in the woods. Crimes such as this against protected animals could carry a prison sentence of up to five years, say conservationists - if only the culprits could be caught.
Yet local police are only registering the odd case here and there, and are mostly unable to link them together across the region, making it difficult to generate any overview of where the poisoners, poachers and illegal hunters will strike next, the paper said.
Now an umbrella group of conservationists, hunters and tourism representatives have come together to demand a special central police unit dedicated to investigating the crimes in the forests.
“It's a scandal if strictly protected species such as the lynx are wiped out by illegal shooting,” Claus Obermaier, of the Gregor Louisoder Environment Institute in Munich responsible for coordinating the umbrella group told the paper.
Under the motto "Matter of Honour! Stop Environmental Crimes," the group has submitted a petition to the Bavarian regional parliament calling for a crack team of forest cops - along the lines of similar squads already operating in the UK and Austria.
Obermaier says the crimes – many of which currently go undetected in the forest - must receive harsher and more consistent punishment as a deterrent to others.