More than 500 deer and wild boar were slaughtered by Spanish hunters who then lined up their carcasses to pose for photos in Portugal.
Portuguese Environment Minister João Fernandes said the 16 hunters' killing of 540 animals was 'vile' and an 'environmental crime' that should be prosecuted.
Macabre photos show the deer and boars' lifeless bodies lined up while the hunters grin and laugh in the background.
Make These counts famous Portugal will investigate the deaths of 540 deer and wild boar ?? at the hands of 16 Spanish hunters @rickygervais— I love the c word! (@margopittendry) December 24, 2020
the animals were cornered on a farm and slaughtered.
Then they hung everything on social media to the outrage of the Portuguese pic.twitter.com/tsQKW3CBLB
Authorities in Portugal have launched an investigation into the hunt on the private Torre Bela estate in Azambuja in Portugal's Lisbon district, where most of the area's deer are now believed to have died.
Mr Fernandes said: 'The reports and news about the indiscriminate slaughter of animals... have nothing to do with hunting, understood as a practice that can contribute to the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystems.'
The country's Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF) is investigating last week's hunt.
Shocking photos show the deer with their heads propped up as blood drains from their bodies.
The pictures were uploaded to Instagram by some of the hunters, according to local reports.
Portuguese officials have condemned 16 Spanish hunters for killing 540 deer and wild boar in the Torrebela tourist hunting zone.— AJ+ (@ajplus) December 24, 2020
The animals were on a 2,700-acre farm described as walled in and had no chance of escape.
The hunt has killed off most of the area’s deer population. pic.twitter.com/HZi7HLJ7Uu
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.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.