Illegal hare coursing, more correctly called poaching, is a huge problem in some parts of the countryside. It is closely connected to the criminal underworld and involves enormous sums of money. The damage illegal coursers cause to land and property and the intimidation and violence faced by those on whose land they operate, should not be underestimated. The problem is widely recognised by government and the police, with the new national rural crime strategy identifying hare poaching as a priority, and a recent rural crime survey highlighting it as one of the top concerns of farmers and land managers.
What are the effects?
- Hare poaching involves trespass on private land and is an offence under the game laws. It is closely connected to the criminal underworld and involves enormous sums of money.
- Lincolnshire police have had 4,203 incidents of hare poaching reported to them since 2016.
- Poaching leads to dogs being seized at huge public expense, or even abandoned as poachers flee.
- Illegal coursers cause damage to land and property and the intimidation and violence faced by those on whose land they operate should not be underestimated.
- The National Rural Crime Survey highlighted it as one of the top corners of farmers and land managers.
The Countryside Alliance calls on the Government to:
- Amend the law to give the police and courts full seizure and forfeiture powers in all cases of poaching under the game laws, in relation to dogs and vehicles.
- Amend the law to enable the police to recover kennelling costs from convicted persons.
- Ensure the courts make full use of criminal behaviour orders to cover wider geographical areas across police forces.
- Revise sentencing guidelines and ensure magistrates understand the full gravity of the offence.
- Ensure that in recording crime statistics hare poaching prosecutions and convictions are identifiable, enabling a proper understanding of the scale of the problem and where resources need to be focussed.
Read the Countryside Alliance hare coursing action plan, here.