General Supplies,Rural Crime

Staying vigilant against hare coursing

13 August, 2018
Brown hare populations are highest in southern and eastern England, but there are also healthy populations across most of the rest of England and western Scotland, so a seasonal rise in coursing can affect large numbers of farms across the country. Hare coursing is at its peak in August and September and usually takes place at dawn or dusk, although it can take place in broad daylight. Coursers take advantage of the wide open spaces following harvest, trespassing on private land in vehicles in order to set their dogs on to hares or deer, and often betting thousands of pounds on the resulting chase. There are even reports of hare coursing being streamed live on mobile phones with people betting and watching online.
The impact of illegal hare coursing goes further than devastating hare populations. Coursers often use threatening and intimidating behaviour, and in some cases violence, if they are approached. Damage to fencing, gates and any remaining crops are also associated with coursing. They often have a sophisticated information network and knowledge of rural areas and they invariably know about vulnerable properties in the area, short cuts, and escape routes. Coursing can also be a major factor in distorting a community’s views about all who engage in legal shooting and fishing.

How can you help prevent hare coursing on your land?

  • Simple steps such as installing gates can help to reduce the opportunity for coursers to use your fields, but the most unscrupulous have been known to just drive through timber gates. Install galvanised gates wherever possible to help prevent this.

  • Keep gates securely locked with hardened chain and high security padlocks.

  • Ditches and fences are no guarantee of keeping coursers off your property, but they can act as a deterrent so are worth installing where possible.

  • Remote CCTV or trail cameras may provide useful evidence of coursing activity where it is a recurring problem; these should be located out of view to prevent theft or vandalism.

  • The most obvious sign is a group of vehicles parked in a rural area e.g. by a gateway to farmland, on a grass verge, on a farm track or bridle path. Be aware of any unusual gatherings and report them if you believe them to be suspicious, giving the date, time and location, descriptions of the people, vehicles and any other witnesses. The more detail you can provide, the more likely a potential conviction is.

What to do if you suspect coursing?

  • If you see or are aware of coursers on your land/permission, call the police. If you have any information about wildlife crime or believe you have witnessed a crime taking place contact them on 101. If a crime is in progress e.g. if you are being threatened or damage is being caused, then it is urgent and 999 should be used.

  • Give the person on the other end of the phone as much information as you have, such as vehicles used, how many offenders, do they have firearms, any other witnesses etc. The more detail you can provide, the more likely identification and conviction is.

  • Give as good an indication of location as you can, especially at night. Where necessary, offer landmarks as an indication of location.

  • You might be told that there is nobody to send immediately, but insist on the incident/log number.

  • BASC advice is to tell the call taker that it is a wildlife crime and needs to be recorded as such. Also ask for the incident to be forwarded to the Wildlife Crime Officer and the local beat officer.

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info@theafgroup.co.uk 01603 881881Honingham Thorpe, Colton, Norwich, Norfolk NR9 5BZ
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