Police hand hare coursers Covid-19 fixed penalty notices

The three poachers were reported for breaching Covid-19 regulations
The three poachers were reported for breaching Covid-19 regulations

Three hare coursers have been handed Covid-19 fixed penalty notices after they were stopped by police patrols in North Yorkshire.

Police were called on 24 January to a report that a blue Subaru Impreza was involved in poaching activity in the rural Bedale area.

The men told North Yorkshire Police they had come from County Durham to North Yorkshire to buy a dog at a service station.

All three were reported for breaching Covid-19 regulations, and issued with a dispersal order requiring them to leave the Hambleton and Richmondshire areas immediately.

About 80 percent of poaching incidents in the county takes place between September and February, according to North Yorkshire Police.

Officers patrol key routes so officers can respond swiftly to any reports, with networks of Rural Watch volunteers able to call in suspicious activity in real time.

The force explained that even if poachers are not stopped at the time, they can expect to receive formal community protection notices – breaches of which will be prosecuted.

Insp Matt Hagen, from North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “Far from being a victimless crime, poachers cause misery and fear in rural communities.

"They have no regard for farmers, and their disgraceful actions damage valuable crops as well as wildlife. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, this criminality is even more unacceptable.”

A petition looking to prompt a change in law to increase sentencing for hare coursing and poaching has gathered well over 11,000 signatures.