Two police firearms officers from Durham Constabulary are being investigated after they allegedly used a crowbar to kill an injured deer.
The officers had been dispatched to destroy the stricken animal, which had been injured on a road.
But it has been reported that instead of using their firearms, the two officers used a crowbar to kill the large animal.
The force confirmed the pair are now being investigated after the deer was "apparently not destroyed in the approved, humane manner" and said they have been moved to other duties.
A Durham Constabulary spokesman said: "It is not unusual for firearms officers to be deployed on occasions when a deer or other large animal is clearly suffering as the result of being struck by a vehicle, and the best action would be for the animal to be humanely destroyed.
"We can confirm inquiries are being made to establish the circumstances surrounding the destruction of an injured deer on a road in Tanfield Lea, Durham, in early June.
"It has been brought to our attention that the deer was apparently not destroyed in the approved, humane manner.
"Two authorised firearms officers have been moved to other duties while the facts are being established and they are not currently involved in a firearms capacity.
"Inquiries are being conducted by the force's professional standards department."