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New measures to tackle hare coursing welcomed by the NFU

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In the weekly Word on the Ground column, NFU county adviser for Holland (Lincs) Johanna Musson discusses rural crime.

The NFU in the Holland (Lincs) area welcomes new measures announced by the government to crack down on hare coursing.

The new measures were announced last Tuesday and will be the light at the end of the tunnel for farmers across the region.

Johanna Musson, NFU county advisor for Lincs
Johanna Musson, NFU county advisor for Lincs

They enable police forces to seize more dogs, courts to ban convicted offenders from keeping dogs and to strengthen penalties by lifting the existing limit on fines.

It will strengthen the law and finally give our police forces and the courts the necessary powers to tackle hare coursing and the wider problem of organised crime.

It reflects what the NFU has been urging the government to implement for many years and is a great start to 2022.

We hope these amendments will signal the start of a real crackdown on these organised gangs of criminals.

What is hare coursing?

For those unaware, hare coursing is a cruel and illegal activity where dogs are released by people trespassing in a farmer’s field to chase hares.

Often attending in large groups, the ‘hare coursers’ gamble on the event and the aim isn’t for the dog to simply catch the hare. The dogs score points for making the animal change direction. This causes a considerable amount of distress for the hare, who is eventually exhausted, caught, and killed.

Hare coursers often cause damage extensive damage, whether that’s through breaking and entering the land, or ruining the crops they drive over. They are also illegally hunting. There are a number of other associated crimes, including the theft of rural equipment, irresponsible and dangerous driving, and driving vehicles unfit for the road.

The rural community and are verbally abused and threatened by the hare coursers, leading to many individuals feeling unsafe in their homes and business premises, adversely affecting mental health.

If you see hare coursing taking place please call 999

Please take note of registration numbers and photographs or videos where safely able to do so.

What to look out for

Groups of vehicles parked in a rural area, by a gateway to farmland, on a grass verge, on a farm track or bridle path.

Estate cars, four wheel drives or vans. It will be obvious looking inside whether there is evidence of dogs or not.

They often travel in convoy, with vans at the front and rear containing minders.

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