Members of the public are being urged to look out for the county’s rural communities by reporting hare coursing incidents.
The hare coursing season traditionally begins in September when fields across Cambridgeshire have been harvested and ploughed, making them the perfect ground for the illegal blood sport.
However, last year saw the spike in offences start in July.
Hare coursing, illegal under the Hunting Act 2004, causes damage to crops, harms animal welfare and threatens the rural community. It can result in intimidation and even violence.
Last year (April 2017-March 2018) officers were called to 1,393 incidents of hare coursing, an increase of 23.39 per cent on the previous 12 months (1,124 incidents).
Detective Constable Tom Nuttall from the Rural Crime Action Team (RCAT) said: “Hare coursing remains one of the biggest crimes affecting our rural communities, particularly in South Cambridgeshire, East Cambridgeshire and Fenland.
“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, and I ask people to report any suspicions.
“Those caught could face a criminal behaviour order, seizure of vehicles and other property, a fine and a driving ban.
“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.”
Landowners are urged to consider blocking entrances to their fields with ditches, fencing or trees or 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.
It’s important people don’t confront hare coursers or put themselves at risk.
If you have information about hare coursing and it’s not currently happening, or have been a victim of the crime, please call 101 or report online at www.contactcambspolice.uk/report.
If a crime is in progress call 999.