The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is stepping up its campaign to combat hare coursing by updating an action plan that outlines how farmers, landowners, the police and Government can work collaboratively to bring those involved to justice.
It comes following increased reports of hare coursing - where dogs compete against each other in pursuit of a hare - which continues to blight the lives of farmers and landowners in the countryside.
This type of rural crime, which attracts illegal betting, was outlawed by the 2004 Hunting Act and takes place illegally without the permission of the landowner, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to land and crops.
The CLA, which represents 30,000 rural businesses across England and Wales, is calling for tailored sentencing guidelines such as vehicle seizure and compensation paid to the landowner for any damage caused.
President of the CLA Mark Bridgeman said:
“Following harvest we always see a spike in hare coursing and sadly the problem is once again prevalent in the countryside.
“Those involved in this crime are hardened criminals who will not think twice about threatening and intimidating anyone who attempts to stop them from pursuing this illegal activity.”
“We hope, through our updated action plan, that our advice to farmers and landowners will be crucial in helping to prevent this type of crime taking place in the future.”
A CLA member said:
“The moment the combine finishes harvesting the first field in mid-July we are under siege. Despite erecting barriers, digging miles of trenches and locking countless gates, still the illegal hare coursers come, often several times a week.
“The police do what their best but the coursers have no respect for officers or anyone else who gets in their way. Until the law changes, they will continue to cause extensive damage on farms, persecute the brown hare at will and intimidate the farming community without fear of a meaningful legal deterrent.”
Landowners and the public need to be able to recognise when they are witnessing a hare coursing incident and they report this to the police either by 101 or 999 (if it is a crime in progress).
Read the CLA’s Action Plan in full here