Police have shot dead a bull which escaped from a cattle market, sparking anger from animal lovers.

Emergency services were called after the animal was reported to be on the loose in Upton Bishop, Herefordshire, this morning.

The bull had escaped from the cattle market in Ross-on-Wye and had been spotted by the M50 before it was destroyed by a licensed civilian marksman.

But West Mercia Police have been criticised for their light-hearted social media updates on the incident which they dubbed "#policesteakout".

Another tweet from the Police Safer Neighbourhood Team for the Golden Valley area added: "Take care if driving in that area. Apparently it's not in a good moooood."

Animal lovers took to social media to slam the force's "heavy-handed" response as well as their "inappropriate" updates on the incident.

Barbara White wrote on Facebook: "That's bad the bull could have been tranquilised and put in the lorry and taken to the market or back to the farm"

Mark Wright added: "I don't think the force's jokey tweets were entirely appropriate before they blasted this helpless animal dead. A bit heavy-handed."

Tessa Dolphin wrote: "The poor thing had been on the run for a few hours. Helicopter and marksmen chasing it."

A West Mercia Police spokesman said the animal was shot dead on a footpath following concerns for the safety of the public, and its owner had been informed.

He added: "A bull that escaped from a cattle market in Ross-on-Wye has been destroyed due to concerns for public safety.

"The bull was tracked to the Wye Valley Walk near to Ross-on-Wye where it was shot by a licensed civilian marksman who was supporting police.

"Thank you to the public for their support and patience while we dealt with the incident.

“The social media messages were put out prior to the bull being destroyed and in light of eventual outcome these messages were taken down.”