CLA meets with East Anglian MPs to call for crackdown on hare coursing

Norfolk Police are cracking down on hare coursing. Picture: Ian Burt

Norfolk Police are cracking down on hare coursing. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Suffolk MPs heard first hand about the destructive impact of illegal hare coursing during a meeting with a rural lobby group - which is calling for stiffer penalties.

The CLA wants to highlight the seriousness of the rural crime, which is particularly prevalent in the autumn after harvest season, and is calling for sentencing guidelines specific to hare coursing to be introduced.

Hare coursing is a rural crime where dogs are used to chase, catch and kill hares with betting on the outcome. It was outlawed by the 2004 Hunting Act but takes place illegally without the permission of the landowner.

CLA president Tim Breitmeyer said: “Hare coursing is illegal and an abhorrent crime that causes damage to land and property and those who seek to intervene are often threatened, intimidated or attacked.

“Hare coursers are hardened criminals who make large sums of money as a result of black market gambling and tough action is needed to stop them.

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“Introducing specific sentences for hare coursing and helping police reclaim kennelling costs for dogs seized from offenders would help to deter the crime and make rural communities feel safer.”

The CLA met with a group of East Anglia MPs, including Ipswich MP Sandy Martin, James Cartlidge, member for South Suffolk and Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West.

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CLA member Jonathan Davis, a gamekeeper who attended the event, said: “Gamekeepers are very much on the front line.

“Organised gangs of criminals are using high-powered 4x4 vehicles and dogs specifically bred to kill.

“Tens of thousands of pounds can change hands in a single night. We need more support and better legislation to deter hare coursing and associated wildlife crimes such as poaching.”

Other members to attend included Jonathan Djanology (Huntingdon), Shailesh Vara (North West Cambridgeshire), Kemi Badenoch (Saffron Walden) and Heidi Allen (South Cambridgeshire).

The CLA represents members who manage more than 10 million acres of rural land across England and Wales.

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