Members of the public are being urged to be the eyes and ears of Cambridgeshire’s rural communities by reporting ongoing hare coursing incidents.
Fields across Cambridgeshire have been harvested and ploughed making them the perfect ground for the illegal blood sport.
The hare coursing season traditionally begins in September and causes damage to crops, harms animal welfare and threatens the rural community. It can result in intimidation and even violence.
Last year (April 2016-March 2017) officers were called to 1,069 incidents of hare coursing, an increase of 44 per cent on the previous year (April 2015-March 2016 742 incidents).
In 2016/17 there were 354 incidents of hare coursing in East Cambs, 275 in South Cambs, 184 in Peterborough, 130 in Fenland and 126 in Huntingdon.
Chief Inspector James Sutherland from the Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT) said: “Hare coursing remains one of the biggest crimes to affect our rural communities between September and February, particularly in South Cambridgeshire, East Cambridgeshire and Fenland.
“Driving hare coursing out of the county is a priority for RCAT and we will do all we can to catch those responsible and bring them to justice.”
The Hunting Act 2004 made hare coursing illegal and anyone convicted of the offence can be fined. Hare courses could also face a criminal behaviour order, seizure of vehicles and other property and a driving ban.
The most obvious sign of hare coursing is a group of vehicles parked in a rural area, perhaps by a gateway to farmland, on a grass verge, on a farm track or bridle path.
Landowners are urged to consider blocking entrances to their fields with ditches, fencing or trees of even barriers like barrels filled with concrete.
Anyone who sees hare coursing taking place is asked to contact police immediately on 999 and provide officers with a description of the people involved, any registration numbers and vehicle descriptions and the location and direction of travel.
Its important people don’t confront people hare coursing or put themselves at risk.
If you have information about hare coursing but it’s not currently happening or have been a victim of the crime, please call 101 or report online at www.contactcambspolice.uk/report