A $40,000 trophy red stag believed to be the victim of a poaching incident may have actually fallen at the hands - or antlers - of another deer.
Yesterday, Wairarapa Police issued a statement appealing for information relating to the death of a deer which they believed had been shot and killed in Ruakokoputuna, near Martinborough, over the weekend.
However, the deer's owner now believes it was wounded by another stag and died of blood poisoning.
A large wound on its hind originally appeared to be the result of a gunshot, but there was no exit wound and no bullet fragments could be found during a post-mortem.
The deer was about 6-years-old, weighed more than 200kg, and had more than 40 points on its antlers.
It had been in a paddock with about 100 others and described as the only "big one".
Wairarapa Police said the owner was currently seeking advice to clarify the cause of death, but this was likely to take several days.
Several residents in the area said poaching was a significant issue, with poachers shooting from their cars, parked at the side of the road, not an uncommon practice.
One resident, who did not wish to be named, said he was frustrated by a lack of action taken by police to address the issue.
"It's been ongoing for years. In the past we've had terrible problems," he said.
The most recent incident occurred in May and many residents had since put security measures in place on their properties.