Police Scotland is urging landowners, farmers and the wider rural community to be vigilant over the coming weeks as they anticipate an increase in hare coursing and associated rural crime.
As part of Operation Lepus; a national operation to address hare coursing, Wildlife Crime Officers will be undertaking targeted patrols in known hare coursing areas in an effort to apprehend the coursers.
Although the primary intention of Operation Lepus is to catch and prevent those responsible for hare coursing; many of those involved in coursing activity have significant criminal records and a secondary, but nonetheless important aim, is the combating of other associated rural crimes – crimes which cost the Scottish rural economy dearly.
The police cannot tackle this issue alone and if Operation Lepus is to be successful it will require input from local landowners, farmers and the wider rural community.
In particular, Operation Lepus will benefit from the following actions:
• immediate reports to the police of illegal hare coursing activity taking place locally;
• reporting to the police of suspicious persons with dogs (normally lurchers) or vehicles;
• reports, even historic, that may identify areas of hare coursing that the police can target, and
• spreading the word with neighbours and those working in rural areas that Operation Lepus is ongoing.
Operation Lepus also involves extensive contact with those involved in land management, letting them know about the Operation. This the case, do not be surprised if you see an increase in the number of marked police vehicles in your local area.
PC Malcolm O’May, Wildlife Crime Liaison Officer with Forth Valley Division said, “We are well aware of the tactics used by some who take part in hare coursing and other wildlife crime and we will robustly deal with anyone found to be coursing and can treat information given to us confidentially to protect identity.”
This information will be handled with great care to avoid breaches of confidentiality and used to further enhance the ability of the police to combat illegal hare coursing and other criminal activity.
To report any wildlife crime activity, please contact Police Scotland by dialling 101 (or 999 in an emergency) and record the incident number given to you by the police.