Massive rise in hare coursing and animal ‘poaching’
Animal hunting rose dramatically in Essex last year – with almost 500 reported cases of hare coursing and a 74% rise in incidents of ‘poaching’.
The rise in hare coursing - where dogs, often greyhounds or lurchers, are used to chase, catch and kill hares – was 46% on the previous year.
Charity Crimestoppers has put out an appeal for people to anonymously tell them about any incidents they see, as the open fields and felled crops during winter make it a popular season for the cruel activity.
People are warned to particularly look out at dawn and dusk, when hare coursing is typically carried out by large groups or gangs who travel long distances in convoy.
Many livestream their criminal efforts, which cause suffering and harm to animals.
By forcing their way into private land, they also often cause damage to property and crops.
Signs to be aware of include clusters of vehicles, people using binoculars to spot hares and people around the edge of a field trying to frighten hares out into the open.
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Phil Breckon, eastern regional manager at Crimestoppers, said: “You can receive a fine of up to £5,000 for hare coursing and those taking part may also have their vehicles and dogs seized.
“The act itself is also extremely damaging to farmers and landowners, who are often powerless to stop it.
“We are appealing for information about it and through this campaign highlighting the signs to spot and what you can do to keep your community safe from the criminal gangs involved.”
People can report crimes by calling police on 101, or calling Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Alternatively, complete the anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org