image source, Gareth Sullivanimage captionThe stag was shot by police

A rare white stag was shot dead by police after it was spotted running through the streets of a town.

People in Bootle, Merseyside were shocked when they saw the wild animal roaming about on Sunday morning.

The RSPCA said it had advised police to "leave the deer as it would make its own way back home" eventually.

But Merseyside Police said officers decided to euthanise the deer after growing concerns it might be dangerous for motorists and pedestrians.

The force said it first received reports of the stag running along various roads at about 08:45 BST on Sunday.

Armed response officers were able to secure it on an industrial estate off Melling Road.

A veterinary surgeon was called to monitor the animal's welfare and assist attempts to control it.

'Danger'

However, police said they were "unable to get assistance" after making enquiries "to find an organisation who could assist with recovering the deer safely".

The animal became distressed, police said.

"There was no option to let the deer wander as it could be a danger to motorists and members of the public in the area, particularly as the hours of darkness approached," a spokesman said.

"As a result a decision was made in the early evening to euthanise the deer."

A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said that while the stag could have been sedated "this needs to be done with caution in a public area such as this one, as the deer could startle and run when hit by the dart".

"This could create a bigger public safety and animal welfare issue," she added.

"Although deer traditionally live in forests, moors and parkland, they are becoming more common in urban environments across the UK."

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