Hare coursing will not be tolerated in West Yorkshire (5 Oct 2016)

Hare Coursing Poster 051016

New signs will be popping up across rural West Yorkshire warning of the consequences of hare coursing and encouraging people to report it.

The signs will be in place from October and have been created by the West Yorkshire Police, in partnership with the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which represents thousands of farmers, landowners and rural businesses throughout the region.

Hare coursing is a so called "blood sport" where dogs are set to chase and kill hares. The activity often also involves gambling with the perpetrators betting large sums of money on which dog will catch and kill the hare.

Hare coursing was banned in 2005, it is illegal to participate, attend, knowingly facilitate or permit land to be used for a hare coursing event. Anyone convicted of the offence can be fined up to £5000 and also face the seizure of any vehicles, equipment and dogs used as well as facing disqualification from driving if they are using their vehicles for crime.

The results of illegal hare coursing can go further than animal cruelty, either by causing damage to property, or by leading to the intimidation of land owners, walkers and other people trying to enjoy the countryside.

The signs will be put up around rural West Yorkshire to raise awareness of the crime, encourage reporting and send a clear message that hare coursing will not be tolerated.

West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson said "The killing of these animals for sport is a cruel and barbaric act and is rightly banned. The practise also has wide ranging negative effects on our communities.

"I would encourage anyone who witness's hare coursing, or sees any suspicious behaviour, not to approach the perpetrators but to contact the police and action will be taken. Reports can be made via the 101 none emergency number or for more options visit West Yorkshire Police's website www.westyorkshire.police.uk/ClickB4UCall."

Sergeant Mark Eilbeck, Wildlife Crime Coordinator for West Yorkshire Police said: "We are actively looking for information on those involved in this type of crime. We will concentrate our efforts on the key offenders and anyone caught hare coursing will be stopped and dealt with.

"Perpetrators are willing to travel considerable distances to take part in hare coursing and may be involved in other forms of criminality such as the theft of agricultural machinery or equipment. The presence of a number of dogs and off-road vehicles can also risk the safety of livestock, as well as damaging the land.

"With the assistance of our communities and partners, we can bring offenders to justice. I would urge those who live in, work in or visit the countryside to report any suspicious behaviour as soon as possible. Suspicious activity to look out for includes a group of vehicles parked in a rural area perhaps by a gateway to farmland, on a grass verge, on a farm track or a bridle path - they may contain evidence of dogs such as muddy paw prints and dog hair. Another possible sign of hare coursing taking place is high-powered lamps being shone across fields during darkness.

CLA North Regional Director Dorothy Fairburn said: "West Yorkshire is often targeted by hare coursers who trespass on private land to carry out this illegal activity. They drive all over growing crops and even through hedges and gates, leaving immense damage in their wake.

"Coursers are hardened criminals, who give no consideration to the damage or distress they may cause, and are prepared to use violence if disturbed. By getting farmers to display these signs we aim to raise public awareness of this crime and also help the police make the county a no-go zone for coursers."

© Copyright West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner 2018