A crushing blow has been dealt to hare coursers targeting South Holland after a vehicle seized by police was reduced to a mangled wreck.
The vehicle, a green Subaru Forrester, was destroyed yesterday in the presence of police officers from Operation Galileo, a campaign by Lincolnshire Police to tackle gangs hunting hares with dogs on farmland in the area.
Police seized the Subaru from William (37) and Mark (40) Gaskin, both of Holbeach, who were fined £800 each by Boston magistrates after they were found guilty of hunting a wild mammal with a dog.
Both men were also convicted of trespassing in pursuit of game after they were seen with a lurcher dog that was chasing a hare on land in Sutton St James last November.
PC Nick Willey, wildlife crime officer for Lincolnshire Police, said: “The Subaru had been involved in a number of incidents in the Holbeach area until it came to the notice of the Galileo team.
“It was seized and the court ordered the forfeiture of the vehicle which was put through the crusher on Wednesday.
“We’re sending a mesage out that if we do get the evidence, we will take action such as this against hare coursers in the area.”
Since Operation Galileo’s launch in 2012, at least 350 people have been prosecuted, resulting in fines, vehicle seizures and banning orders against people caught hare coursing in the county.
PC Willey said: “Four-wheel drive vehicles such as the Subaru are quite the sought-after vehicle for hare coursers and poachers.
“At the moment, we’re looking at night-time poaching, deer poaching and other things that are prevalent in the county.”
More vehicles such as the Subaru are likely to be seized and crushed in the coming months as the fight against hare coursing has been extended to cover rural crime in general.
The Galileo team is now under the umbrella of the East Midlands Operational Support Service which puts officers from five police forces – Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire – at its disposal where necessary.
PC Willey said: “It allows us to work more closely with other forces in the East Midlands but having said that, the Galileo team has also been taken on by police forces in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.
“This does give us a little bit more in terms of resources to call on as the people who are involved in hare coursing don’t keep themselves within the boundaries of Lincolnshire.
“The Galileo team has always looked at other rural crime issues but now our remit has widened to cover things like thefts of tractors and plant machinery as well.”
Assistant Chief Constable Peter Davies said: “The Galileo team did a terrific job last year in reducing the number of hare coursing incidents in Lincolnshire and getting some really good results in court.
“The message we want to send out to people planning to come hare coursing in our county is don’t think about and if you do, prepare for a long walk home.”