A new campaign to stopped hare coursing in Suffolk is being launched today. Anyone caught participating in the illegal blood sport is being warned their vehicles can be seized and crushed.
The cross-county operation between Suffolk Police and regional colleagues in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire will run until March 2014.
This year’s campaign has been timed to start after harvest, when hare coursers typically become active as large tracts of land are left without standing crops. During this period, people from across the UK are known to travel to the region to hunt hares with dogs.
Reports of hare coursing have been increasing in recent years and in the period September 2012 to March 2013, over 300 incidents were reported in Suffolk.
Officers in the county will be carrying out patrols in areas identified as potential targets for offenders and will be taking strong action against anyone found to be hare coursing.
Police will prosecute those who are responsible and the vehicles used in such activities can be seized by police and could be crushed.
– Tim Newcomb, Suffolk’s Assistant Chief Constable
"Being a county with large rural areas, we are often targeted by hare coursers who trespass on private land to carry out this illegal activity.
"It can cause distress, alarm and inconvenience to our rural communities and we are committed to working with the public, and landowners in particular, to stop those responsible.
"It is extremely important that we work together to tackle this area of crime and I would ask that anyone who sees hare coursing being carried out to report it to police immediately. We want these people to know that these offences will not be tolerated, we will use our full powers to bring those responsible to justice and will seize and destroy any vehicles involved."
A local landowner and member of the National Farmers' Union said: "The farming community is fully supportive of this campaign, which will help protect our rural areas from the damage and financial cost that hare coursing can cause.
"We hope that it will send a message to hare coursers that this activity will not be accepted in our county and that our police force is taking strong action."
Members of the public who witness hare coursing taking place are advised not to approach the participants but to phone police immediately on 101, or on 999 in an emergency.