A police team dedicated to catching hare coursing gangs targeting south Lincolnshire has been praised by an animal charity.
Almost 350 people have been prosecuted since the launch of Operation Galileo in September 2012 when Lincolnshire Police set up a specialist team of officers to tackle wildlife crime.
The operation has been praised by World Animal Protection UK whose campaigns manager Alyx Elliott credited Lincolnshire Police in “paving the way” for other forces to tackle hare coursing.
Mr Elliott said: “Lincolnshire Police has been integral to fighting hare coursing through its Operation Galileo and officers work to raise awreness of the impacts of these crimes on the local community.
“Police in Lincolnshire are paving the way for tackling wildlife crime in the UK by raising awareness and feeding intelligence reports back to the National Wildlife Crimes Unit, providing an accurate perspective of wildlife crime intelligence across England and Wales.”
PC Nick Willey, Lincolnshire Police’s wildlife rural crime officer, said: “I have always had an interest in wildlife issues and I care about the countryside and the rural communities.
“Having policed them for over 25 years I recognise the issues that affect people and I know it is not just poaching and badger persecution that have an impact.
“It is all the associated crimes like thefts of livestock and farm tractors as well.”