Hare courser sentenced after committing crimes on farms

Reports of hare coursing have been increasing in recent years
Reports of hare coursing have been increasing in recent years

A man has been ordered to stay away from large areas of rural Lancashire after he was sentenced for hare coursing on farmland.

Daniel Ratchford, 36, was handed a Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) which will last for 5 years, banning him from entering vast areas around West Lancashire and Sefton.

The order prevents him from being part of a group of two or more people who are in control of any dog anywhere in England and Wales.

Hare coursing, illegal in the UK under the Hunting Act 2004, is a blood-sport where dogs are used to chase, catch and kill hares.

An investigation into Ratchford began after police received information that he was committing poaching offences on farmland, allowing his Lurcher-cross dogs to kill wild rabbits and hares.

As a result, Lancashire Police's Rural Task Force executed a warrant at Ratchford’s property in the early hours of 11 March 2021.

He is also prohibited from trespassing on any land and from acting in a manner that causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

Ratchford was given the CBO after previously being found guilty of four poaching offences, hunting wild animals with dogs and five breaches of a Dog Disqualification Order.

In addition, he was also handed a 32 week custodial sentence suspended for two years, a 16-week 7pm – 6am tagged curfew and a 50 day Rehabilitation Order.

PC Paddy Stewart, of the Task Force, said Ratchford had shown 'absolutely no regard for animals’ rights to live peacefully in the wild'.

He added that Ratchford's crimes also had 'far-reaching impacts' on farming and rural communities.

“The fact is that offenders like Ratchford know that animals like hares don’t die instantly after one bite from a dog, they are agile are often are unsuccessfully grabbed several times, causing graphic injuries and distress.

"And that’s if they survive; the vast majority die suffering and screaming in agonising pain."

He added: "I hope that this result shows those who commit these types of offences, whether that be against wildlife or farming, we have a dedicated team of officers and we will find you."

It comes as Suffolk Constabulary recently warned hare coursers that their vehicles could be seized and crushed if they were caught and convicted.