Grampian Police are urging farmers to be vigilant as they anticipate an increase in hare coursing and associated rural crime this autumn.
As part of Operation ‘Lepus’ the Grampian Police Wildlife Crime Unit will be undertaking targeted patrols in known hare coursing areas in an effort to apprehend the coursers.
Hare coursing involves people accessing land with dogs with the intention of hunting for brown hares. Upon sighting a hare the dog or dogs are released in pursuit with the coursers often placing bets to see which dog will catch and kill the hare.
Hare coursing was banned in Scotland in 2002 under the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act, which also makes it an offence for anyone to permit hare coursing on their land.
Hare coursing typically takes place in early autumn after the harvest has been gathered, when fields contain stubble that will permit the dogs to run, and in the early spring before crops have fully established.
Andy Turner, Wildlife Crime Education Officer, said: “Poaching, typically hare coursing and the illegal taking of deer and freshwater fish, is a national wildlife crime priority.
“Although the animals involved are not rare, they can suffer a cruel death at the hands of the poachers.”