Hunt hares and risk jail, say police

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Hare coursing gangs targeting South Holland have been warned to expect jail if they continue with their illegal activities in the area.

Hare coursing gangs targeting South Holland have been warned to expect jail if they continue with their illegal activities in the area.

The message comes from Inspector Andy Ham, head of Operation Galileo where a team of police officers has been stopping people suspected of hunting hares with dogs.

Inspector Ham said the first prosecutions since the operation began last September saw two men from Lancashire given fines and three-year restraining orders last month.

The effect of the order is to ban the men from entering any land in Lincolnshire with dogs and a breach will leave them facing up to five years in prison.

Inpector Ham said: “We’re just over halfway through the operation and we know that incidents of hare coursing are down across the county, compared to this time last year.

“But we still have January to come, which is a big month for hare coursers, before things start to taper off in March.

“The police are hugely encouraged and reassured that the courts locally are recognising the impact hare coursing has on farmers and landowners which is reflected in their sentencing, including these restraining orders.

“If we can continue to reduce incidents of hare coursing in Lincolnshire, that would be marvellous.”

*Inspector Ham said only six reports of hare coursing were dealt with across Lincolnshire on Boxing Day, one of the busiest days of the year for hunting.

They included a case in Sutterton where three men were given a court summons and told to leave the county.

Inspector Ham said: “I was really happy with Boxing Day which has been a big hit historically for hare coursing.

“People were stopped and the number of incidents was way down on Boxing Day 2011.

“This is one of the biggest indicators of the operation’s success.”