Home News Police Step Up Fight Against Hare Coursers

Police Step Up Fight Against Hare Coursers

Image credit: Sky News.
Image credit: Sky News.

Once the dogs have caught sight of the hare, they’re released from their leashes, and give chase.

The wild animal might turn a few times in the field as it’s pursued – this is often what the men are betting on – but the blood sport usually ends in a kill.

Hare coursing has been illegal for more than a decade now, but as another ‘season’ comes to an end, police across eastern England have faced an increase in cases.

Lincolnshire police say they’ve dealt with reports almost every day this winter, with the men they’ve arrested coming from across the UK.

“They come from as far afield as Wales, County Durham, Manchester, Kent, and Sussex” explains Chief Inspector Jim Tyner.

“The flat land brings them here, the lack of hedgerows means you get a long view of when dogs are chasing hares.”

Huge sums of money are bet on the blood sport – anecdotal reports suggest as much as £20,000 can change hands during sessions of coursing.

If police suspect the groups of men are involved in coursing, they have powers to seize dogs and cars. This, coupled with the money at play, can lead to threats and intimidation against those who get in coursers’ way.

Farmer Mark Leggott, whose fields are the perfect terrain for coursing, says it’s caused him immense stress.

He says he’s been spat at, a brick has been thrown at him, and that a neighbour’s barn was burnt down after he confronted hare coursers.

But there are those who support hare coursing, although they don’t associate with the men who do it for sport or as a social activity.

Shaun says he used to course with permission from farmers, and that it was a way of life.

“It’s been going on for thousands of years, catching dogs, chasing hares,” he argues.

“it was nothing like this what’s going on now, now everyone’s doing what they want, it’s like cowboy country down there.”

He says there was better regulation before the ban, before it was driven underground.

For many, any debate about hare coursing rests one issue, animal cruelty. Images of hares dead on the ground will be enough to make up their minds.

But for others, a way of life and a rural tradition was brought to an end. A core of hare coursers are willing to flout the ban, despite the penalties, and they don’t seem to have been dissuaded as time has gone on.

By Tom Platt, Sky News Reporter

(c) Sky News 2016

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