Calls have made for an increased police presence in the countryside as part of a campaign to tackle hare coursing.
CLA East is urging Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) across the region to ensure fighting this criminal activity is treated as a high priority.
Incidents of hare coursing traditionally begin to increase in the final third of the year after the majority of crops are cleared from the region’s arable fields. Coursers then take advantage of the wide open spaces, trespassing on private land in order to set their dogs on to hares – often betting thousands of pounds on the outcome of the resulting chase.
CLA East Regional Surveyor Tim Woodward said: “Reducing crime, and the fear of it, is central to improving the quality of life of people living in our rural communities. Unfortunately, many find their lives blighted by it every day.
“While theft is without doubt the major concern for farmers and rural businesses, wildlife crimes, such as hare coursing, have a huge impact on rural communities and conservation efforts.
“Hare coursers are hardened criminals, who are engaged in illegal betting involving large sums of money, and they are prepared to use violence if disturbed – and many of our members have been victims. Evidence shows that coursers are frequently also involved in other criminal activity too.”
Mr Woodward said that getting PCCs to boost police presence in the countryside would be vital in tackling hare coursing, as well as other rural crimes. He said it would increase public confidence and help encourage them to report incidents.