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Police issue warning over hare coursing in Norfolk

Police are warning they will take strong action against anyone taking part in hare coursing in West Norfolk.

It comes as Norfolk Police has once again signed up to this year’s Operation Galileo – a nationwide approach adopted by 12 police forces to prevent hare coursing.

This collaboration includes identifying key offenders over the 12 forces, gathering and sharing intelligence to prevent hare coursing, and exploring civil and criminal powers to take enforcement action.

Norfolk Police is warning it will take strong action against anyone taking part in hare coursing
Norfolk Police is warning it will take strong action against anyone taking part in hare coursing

PC Jon Chandler, Norfolk Police’s rural crime beat manager for West Norfolk, said: “Hare coursing has a terrible impact on our rural communities: it damages property, threatens people’s livelihoods and subjects people and families to fear and intimidation.

“It’s an issue we take very seriously indeed and we will take prompt and robust action to prevent this happening again in Norfolk, and pursue anybody committing this crime.

“If you witness this crime in action or have information about illegal hare coursing, please share this with us so we can work together to catch those responsible.”

Norfolk Police is also taking part in Operation Owl this weekend, Saturday, September 21, and Sunday, 22, which will see police forces across the country intensify their efforts to tackle the persecution of birds of prey.

Officers say methods of persecution include illegal trapping, shooting, poisoning and nest disturbance.

Anyone who sees a wildlife crime scene is asked to accurately record and report it to police.

Hare coursing usually starts after harvest and runs into spring – this is when hare coursers typically become active as large tracts of land are left without standing crops.

Officers say offenders are known to travel to Norfolk from around the country to hunt hares with dogs.

Norfolk officers will be carrying out patrols in areas identified as potential targets for hare coursing, and any vehicles used in such activities can be seized and could be crushed.

Hare coursing has been illegal fore more than a decade, since the implementation of the Hunting Act 2004.

This banned activity sees greyhounds and other ‘sight’ hounds, such as lurchers, chasing a hare by sight, not scent.

Usually, but not always, hare coursing is carried out in groups.

The dogs flush out the hares in the fields and are then released from their leads to chase, and often kill, the hare.

Frequently the practice is highly-organised, and significant sums of money can change hands in the form of illegal betting and gambling on the outcome.

The victor is determined by the first dog to catch and ‘turn’ the hare or kill it.

Anybody who witnesses hare coursing in progress should call 999 immediately.

People with information about hare coursing or wildlife crime can contact police on 101.

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