FARMERS in Sutton Bridge are delighted Lincolnshire Police is launching its first ever full-time team to combat hare coursing.
Five officers and one sergeant start work next month.
County police received 1,200 reports of hare coursing in 2011/12 and are confident that number will go down with a team focusing on the crime.
Officers will work with other forces as hare coursing gangs travel across England, mostly targeting fields in autumn after crops have been harvested and in spring when new crops are growing.
Sutton Bridge farmer and district councillor Michael Booth farms 260 acres with his son, Simon, also a district councillor, and says hare coursing is a problem for them “virtually every weekend” after harvest and in spring.
He’s delighted the police will have a full-time team and thinks more crimes will be detected.
Coun Booth said: “They did have a task force group that I used to ring at Grantham but it was touch and go whether they could get here in time.”
He said hare coursers do most damage in spring.
Coun Booth explained: “In spring time when the crops are growing they can see the hares and they don’t mind running four wheel drives across the crops or anything like that. It’s very serious then.
“In the autumn, once the wheat gets combined and harvest gets underway, they can again see the hares and go on the fields but they are not doing damage so much then.”
Coun Booth goes out most weekends to clear intruders.
He said: “Approaching them sometimes isn’t very comfortable, really, and I always have Simon with me because he’s a big lad.
“I have never been threatened but my neighbour went to approach them once and one jumped out of a car with a big stick. I have always been cautious. I have always got somebody with me.”
Lincolnshire’s wildlife rural crime officer PC Nick Willey says he is “personally confident” police will cut the number of hare coursing crimes.