The CLA is urging police to take the toughest stance possible against illegal hare coursing and for anyone visiting or working in the countryside to be vigilant in spotting and reporting suspicious activity.
With fields being cleared of crops following harvest, concerns over hare coursing are increasing with police forces across the region investigating incidents of suspected coursing.
Hare coursing is a rural crime where dogs are used to chase, catch and kill hares, with gambling on the outcome common practice. The crime becomes more prevalent following harvest when large areas of arable land are cleared of crops, making it easier to travel across fields.
The CLA represents farmers, landowners and rural businesses and its members are regularly victims of hare coursing on their land. In one recent incident a member has reported being threatened when discovering people hare coursing on farmland.
To ensure there is a greater deterrent against hare coursing the CLA has called for tougher sentencing for perpetrators. Read the CLA’s action plan to tackle hare coursing by clicking here.
CLA East Regional Director Ben Underwood 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.
“Our members regularly tell us how they have had crops damaged and fences, gates and hedges vandalised as hare coursers gain access to fields. The animal welfare concerns of this activity are also extremely worrying.
“We urge the police to take the toughest possible action against illegal hare coursing - but they need evidence to catch perpetrators and bring them to justice. This is why we encourage people to record and report any suspicious activity to the police. This can be done by dialling 101 or if a crime is actually in progress dial 999.
One CLA member in the East of England, who wishes to remain anonymous, said:
“We are extremely concerned about the level of hare coursing that is taking place on our land. We are dealing with very violent people who are gaining access to our fields, damaging crops and breaking gates without a single care for the crime they are committing.
“We have met with the police who are doing the best they can but they are limited in their resource to tackle this crime. However, we must keep reporting incidents of illegal coursing and any damage so that we can keep the issue well up the police’s agenda.”
Top Tips - what to do if you see hare coursing taking place:
Do not approach hare coursers
Report any suspicious activity in the countryside to the police on 101
Call 999 if you suspect a crime is actually taking place.
When telephoning the police, callers should do so from a safe location and be prepared to give an accurate description of what is happening. This could include descriptions of the people, their vehicles and dogs, especially if it is lurcher type dogs which are commonly used to chase down hares.
Representatives from the CLA meet regularly with police forces across the region to reinforce the concerns its members have about hare coursing to ensure the crime is treated as a priority.