Thursday, 12 September 2013

Hare coursing season is here. Report suspicious activity to the 101 number

Hare coursing is the pursuit of hares using dogs like lurchers and greyhounds. It is a competitive sport where bets are placed on which dog will catch the hare first and often large sums of money will exchange hands.

Hare coursing tends to start after harvest when large areas of land are left without standing crops, usually at the end of August or beginning of September but it can continue up until Christmas. Hare coursing is most likely to occur at dawn or dusk but could also take place in daylight hours. Anyone convicted of this offence can be fined up to £5000 by a magistrates’ court.

Listen to our podcast to find out more about hare coursing, poaching and our wildlife officers!

Why is hare coursing a problem?
Participants of hare coursing often do not consider the land they are trespassing on. Their vehicles can ruin land and crops.  If they are hare coursing over a vast area of land (which they usually are), they can cost the landowner a substantial amount of money and fixing crops is not instantaneous!
Violent confrontations can happen when participants are approached by landowners or their employees and this means rural communities can feel intimidated by hare coursers in their area. This can obviously be frightening for the victim and they will be less likely to report suspicious activity to police due to the fear of repercussions. This means vital intelligence is not being gathered which helps police catch the criminals. TVP want to eliminate the fear of crime as well as build confidence within the rural communities by reducing rural crime.

The problems associated with poaching are very similar to those around hare coursing. Mainly, offenders will break gates in order to get onto private land, drive across crops damaging them and if they are hunting deer, it means the animals aren’t there when the landowners want to use them to make money. Poachers can also, while using lamps etc at night time to kill the deer, ruin the next day’s shooting if they are driving through pheasant cover and woodland where the birds normally feel safe.

 What to look out for:

·         Groups of vehicles parked up in a rural area, perhaps to a gateway to farmland, bridle paths, farm tracks or grass verges.
·         There will usually be estate cars, 4x4s or vans. They may have evidence of dogs inside like muddy paw prints or dog hairs.
·         Hare coursers often travel in convoy with transit vans at the front and rear and the cars in between
·         Lights or torches at night in wooded areas or across fields could be a sign of someone illegally hunting
Anyone who sees anything which might suggest hare coursing or poaching is happening in the area should report it to police via the 101 number. If you see hare coursing or poaching there and then, this could be a crime in progress so call 999

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