Warning about illegal hare coursing
With the harvest complete, the seasonal issue of illegal hare coursing across the Norfolk landscape comes into sharp focus.
Norfolk Police is warning they will take strong action against anyone who chooses to take part in this illegal activity.
Superintendent Jason Broome of Norfolk Police said: "We take the issue of illegal hare coursing very seriously because we understand the impact it has on our rural communities. This illegal activity damages property, threatens people's incomes and subjects people to fear and intimidation.
"We will act promptly and robustly and pursue anybody committing this type of crime. I appeal to anybody who may witness this crime in action or have information about illegal hare coursing to contact us."
Officers will be carrying out patrols in areas identified as potential targets for illegal hare coursing. Any vehicles used in such activities can be seized and could be crushed.
Hare coursing usually starts after harvest and runs into spring. This is when hare coursers typically become active as large tracts of land are left without standing crops. Offenders are known to travel to Norfolk from around the country to hunt hares with dogs.
Norfolk officers are joining forces with colleagues from Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Essex, the National Farmers' Union, Natural England and the Countryside Land Owners Association as part of Operation Galileo – an annual operation targeting hare coursing in the East of England.
Hare coursing has been illegal for more than a decade, since the implementation of the Hunting Act 2004. This banned activity sees greyhounds and other ‘sight' hounds, such as lurchers, chasing a hare by sight, not scent.
Usually, but not always, it's carried out in groups. The dogs flush out the hares in the fields and are then released from their leads to chase, and often kill, the hare. Frequently the practice is highly organised. Significant sums of money can change hands in the form of illegal betting and gambling on the outcome. The victor is determined by the first dog to catch and ‘turn' the hare or kill it.
Anybody witnessing illegal hare coursing in progress should call 999 immediately. People with information about illegal hare coursing can contact Norfolk Police on the non-emergency number 101. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.