Farmer fears threat from criminals to South Holland’s wildlife

Criminals linked to hare coursing may now be targeting eggs from birds like this hen harrier.
Criminals linked to hare coursing may now be targeting eggs from birds like this hen harrier.
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A farmer fears criminals involved in hare coursing are switching attention to the theft of eggs from birds of prey found in South Holland.

District and parish councillor Michael Booth says vehicles believed to be connected to hare coursers have been found in areas like Sutton Bridge and Gedney Drove End – and have been swiftly driven off as farmers approached.

Hare coursing has come to a natural stop as crops stand in the fields, but Coun Booth fears those involved are hanging around to target the nests of birds of prey like the marsh harrier, hen harrier and Montagu’s harrier.

He said: “I know people like to look at the wildlife but there was a car on one farm that was there probably an hour-and-a-half and, when the farmers arrived, the car sped off.”

A police spokesman said: “We take the theft of bird eggs very seriously and encourage anyone who suspects the practice is taking place to contact us so our specially trained wildlife crime officers can investigate.

“The theft of wild bird eggs can have serious implications for the conservation of species and the law offers strict protection. “The Protection of Birds Act 1954 makes it illegal to take the eggs of most wild birds and the possession or control of a wild bird egg is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Anyone found guilty of an offence faces a penalty of a £5,000 fine and/or six months’ imprisonment per egg.”

• Questions are being asked about the way Sutton Bridge and Long Sutton are being policed.

Coun Booth says he believes Lincolnshire Police is doing the best it can with the resources available, but he’s worried the thin blue line is too thin.

District councillors used ward budgets to buy two, high-spec £600 bikes for PCSOs to use in Sutton Bridge and Long Sutton but they have barely been ridden since they were made available early last year.

Coun Booth says he understands the PCSOs were given bigger areas to cover.

“I am not putting the blame on the people who are supposed to be riding the bikes,” he said. “It’s political. We are not being resourced to be policed properly.”

Coun Booth aims to talk to Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Marc Jones about the resourcing issue.

Jack Tyrrell, a new district councillor for Long Sutton, wants to see police patrolling the town and says the bikes should be used if police asked for them.

Coun Tyrrell said: “I have never seen a copper on a bike in Long Sutton.”

Community police inspector Jo Reeve said the bikes bought by councillors “remain a valuable asset to police and will continue to be used, particularly through the summer months”.

She maintains The Suttons are being appropriately policed.

Insp Reeve said: “Whilst Neighbourhood Teams, supported by local response officers, are at the heart of policing in our communities, they are supported by regional EMOpSS resources, such as traffic units and dog handlers, who patrol the county around the clock.”

Previously ...

Fear and loathing on South Holland farmlands of a hare coursing tide of terror

Hare coursing in the Holbeach area

HARE COURSING: Police have now made 176 arrests

Deeping St Nicholas farmer on hare coursing

Hare coursing operation across South Holland and the Deepings brings results

Wheelie great way to police the Suttons