Farmers urge action on hare coursers
By Ted JeoryFED-UP farmers have called for a police crackdown on gangs of hare coursers who have targeted their land for the illegal sport.Dick Strachan, of Little Oakely Hall farm, near Dovercourt, said the intimidation his family had faced from hare coursers was becoming so bad that he feared someone could soon be hurt.
By Ted Jeory
FED-UP farmers have called for a police crackdown on gangs of hare coursers who have targeted their land for the illegal sport.
Dick Strachan, of Little Oakely Hall farm, near Dovercourt, said the intimidation his family had faced from hare coursers was becoming so bad that he feared someone could soon be hurt.
The latest incident came on Friday afternoon when Mr Strachan spotted a four-wheel-drive vehicle on his property.
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He dialled 999, but claimed to have been told that officers were not able to respond immediately because of a serious road crash near Alresford.
"I understand that they have to deal with a serious accident, but it just seems to me that there's always some reason why they can't come," said Mr Strachan.
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"My son and his wife were threatened with rocks when they approached them once. This is our property, these crops are our livelihood and they are breaking in ruining it.
"Why can't they put up a police helicopter when we dial 999 like they do in towns? It would show these thugs that the police meant business and ward them off for good."
David Munro, of nearby South House Farm, said his fields had been ploughed up by the hare coursers' vehicles and he backed the call for a police clampdown.
Gangs of illegal coursers requently target East Anglia, looking for fields where they can set their lurchers and greyhounds in pursuit of hares, and farmers in the Tendring area said they had had to put up with these intruders for years.
Often the hare coursers arrive in pairs, armed with a video camera to record the chase and the kill. These images are then played back to gamblers, who bet large sums of money on the outcome.
A spokeswoman for Essex Police said: "We only have so much resources and these need to be prioritised. We do attend all incidents, but it might well be some time after the call if there's something else happening.
"By that time, the intruders could well have left and it's difficult catching them. With regards to the police helicopter, it is normally sent up when the incident is regarded as serious enough to warrant it."