Fury in Portugal after Spanish hunters slaughter more than 500 wild animals

Portugal has been left outraged after Spanish hunters massacred more than 500 wild animals.

Environment Minister João Matos Fernandes said the killing by the 16 hunters was "vile" and an "environmental crime" that should be prosecuted.

Pictures of the mass slaughter of deers and wild boars were shared on social media, with the bloodthirsty calling it a "record" due to the sheer volume of animals killed.

The hunting was carried out in a hunting zone in the centre of Portugal where the killing of individual animals is allowed, but most of the zone's deer population are said to have died.

It is thought to have taken place on a farm in the Torrebela tourist hunting zone, near Azambuja, about 40km from Portuguese capital Lisbon on December 17 and 18.

The huge farm is supposedly walled in meaning the defenceless animals had no means of escape from their would-be killers.

The Environment Ministry said in a statement that "the reports and news about the indiscriminate slaughter of animals…have nothing to dow with hunting, understood as a practice that can contribute to the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystems".

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The Institute for Nature Conservation and Forests (ICNF) is now set to suspend the hunting licence for the Torrebela hunting zone.

Environment Minister Mr Fernandes added: "It is the ministry's understanding that changes to the law are needed to prevent the terrible events that have been reported from being repeated."

The hunters are said to be from the Monteros de la Cabra hunting society in Badajoz, southwest Spain.

Portugal's authorities say they had no prior knowledge of the hunting trip before the pictures were plastered across social media.

The number of animals slaughtered would normally have to be authorised in advance.

The 765-hectare property where the hunt was carried out is used for hunting trips for which participants are said to pay high amounts of money.

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