The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is urging farmers and the public to be extra vigilant as we enter peak hare coursing season.
Hare coursing occurs when dogs compete against each other in pursuit of a hare, an illegal pursuit often driven by organised gangs 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 without the permission of the landowner, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to land and crops. There is often a spike in incidents following harvest.
Country Land and Business Association President Mark Tufnell said: “Hare coursing continues to be a blight on rural communities across England and Wales, particularly at this time of year, and we would urge farmers and landowners to remain extra vigilant.
"All incidents should be reported, with registration plates and as much information as possible, but from a safe place.
“There are signs of a more joined-up approach developing between many police forces and farmers, and it is pleasing to see recently the first convictions under the new legislation which added offences of trespass with intent to search for or to pursue hares with dogs, and being equipped for such searches.
“But there are still shocking incidents occurring; only last week a farm worker was injured when trying to photograph a car driven by suspected hare coursers.
"Coursing is often undertaken by criminal gangs, can be part of a wider network of organised crime, and has a massive impact on farmers and rural communities.”
CLA's Rural Crime hub
The CLA has a dedicated Rural Crime hub offering members advice and support. Access it here.
Next week is National Rural Crime Week, and the hub will be updated daily with blogs and analysis covering issues including fly-tipping, theft and drones.