What is hare coursing?
Hare coursing is a blood-sport where dogs compete against each other to chase, catch and kill wild hares across farmland and rural areas. In some cases hare coursing involves live streaming where bets in the thousands are placed on the final outcome of the chase.
Illegal in the UK under the Hunting Act 2004, it is an offence to hunt wild mammals with dogs. Offenders can receive a fine of up to £5,000 by a Magistrates’ Court if they are convicted.
After a Wiltshire gamekeeper stumbled across nine dead hares dumped by a hare coursing gang on a rural road earlier in April. Farmers and politicians are calling for a police crackdown on illegal hare coursing.
Report hare coursing
If you see hare coursing taking place, or suspect it is happening in your area contact your local police force on 101 immediately. Do not approach anyone involved.
How to spot hare coursing
Illegal coursing typically starts after harvest time at dawn or dusk when large areas of land have been cleared.
Participants often park as a group in rural areas, by gateways to farmland, on grass verges or anywhere near farm tracks or bridleways – usually at dusk or dawn, and in off road vehicles, estate cars or vans (If possible look for signs of dogs).
Coursers tend to walk along the edge of fields and stray away from designated paths to scare hares into the open.
They often use binoculars to spot hares.
Greyhounds and lurchers are typically used as the hunting dog of choice.
Reporting coursing to the police
Try and be as detailed as possible when reporting rural crime to the police and be prepared to answer questions like these.
Are the suspect/s alone or in a group?
Are they trespassing?
Do they have equipment with them?
Do they have dogs or firearms with them?
Where are they going?
Where have they been?
What do they look like?
Have they any vehicles?
What are the number plates and vehicle models?
Can you safely get a photograph?
How land owners can prevent coursing
Barricading possible points of entry with bales.
Hanging signs saying fields are alarmed with hidden wires.
Putting up rural crime signs.
Using WhatsApp groups to report illegal activity.
By using what3words to give police the precise locations of illegal activity.
Take mobile phone pictures and videos to help police.
Providing in-depth statements to the police to assist with any convictions.