Sign of times as hare coursing purge changes

Farmers, NFU representatives and PC Nick Willey (front left) with new hare coursing signs warning gangs of a maximum fine of �5,000 as part of a joint initiative between the CLA, NFU and Lincolnshire Police.  Photo by Tim Wilson.
Farmers, NFU representatives and PC Nick Willey (front left) with new hare coursing signs warning gangs of a maximum fine of �5,000 as part of a joint initiative between the CLA, NFU and Lincolnshire Police. Photo by Tim Wilson.

Farmers fear that new signs warning criminals of a maximum £5,000 fine for hare coursing will not be enough to stop the problem.

A joint initiative by the NFU, Lincolnshire Police and Country Land and Business Association to stop hare coursers targeting the county was launched on Thursday with the help of new signs stating that ‘Hare Coursing is Illegal’.

The signs are to be delivered to farmers and landownera across the county just a week after police confirmed that a specialist team set up to combat hare coursing across south Lincolnshire had been disbanded.

Operation Galileo, set up in September 2012 after police received about 1,200 reports of hare coursing in the county during the previous year, resulted in almost 350 prosecutions between its formation and August 2014.

Rex Sly, who hosted the campaign launch at his farm in Crowland, said: “My wife and daughter are both wary of walking down to the bottom of the farm because only last week, there was a vehicle on the side of the brook that runs along the bottom our farm.

“Hare coursing gangs don’t come during harvest time, choosing instead to wait until the harvest season ends so they can drive across our lawn and crops.

“Operation Galileo worked very well because we could ring the police straight away if we saw strangers near our farm, so the success of this new campaign with the signs will depend on whether the police can respond to our calls.”

PC Nick Willey, rural and wildlife crime officer for Lincolnshire Police, said: “We are dedicated to fighting hare coursing and all forms of rural crime because as well as the distress it causes rural communities, it also has a detrimental effect on wildlife and the environment as well.”