Shropshire farmer hits out at 'evil and sick' hare coursers

A hare
Hare coursing was made illegal in 2004

A farmer has hit out at those involved in the "despicable" illegal activity of hare coursing.

Maurice Jones from Shropshire said the outlawed pursuit is still taking place after he and police found evidence.

The Country Land and Business Association has said the activity, which involves using dogs to chase and kill hares, is becoming more prevalent.

West Mercia Police has said it will convict anyone involved.

Hare coursing was made illegal under the Hunting Act in 2004. Tougher measures were brought in last year in a bid to tackle the crime, with those convicted facing unlimited fines and up to six months in prison.

Speaking to BBC Midlands Today, Mr Jones said he had found burnt-out cars on his land which he believed was the result of hare coursers hiding evidence.

The people who took part in the activity were evil, he said.

"They've got to be sick people to take part in a sport like this that's so vicious," he said.

'It's despicable'

Rural crime officer Phil Nock said: "It's despicable. The brown hare is a lovely creature. It's protected in law and yet these offenders still go out and kill these hares.

"In the past, I've walked down lanes in Shropshire while on patrol and located up to 11 hares in a pile, just dead and ripped to pieces. It's horrible and it's got to stop."

Hare coursing is also linked to crimes such as theft, criminal damage, violence and intimidation.

West Mercia Police was one of the first forces in the country to secure a conviction for hare coursing. It said it will arrest and convict anyone found carrying out the activity.

Police are urging people to report issues, and the CLA's advise is to make sure hedges and fences are secure and gates locked.

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Sophie Dwerryhouse of the Country Land and Business Association said people gamble "huge sums of money" as a part of hare housing.

As well as a fine and up to six months in prison, those convicted could also be banned from owning dogs.