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Dispersal zones and multiple arrests in drive against hare coursing

Multi-force action has been stepped up against illegal wildlife gangs.

The lead force for the national rural crime initiative has imposed a dispersal zone in a bid to halt hare coursing.

Lincolnshire revealed yesterday it had created a 48-hour dispersal zone covering the whole county, based on intelligence on gangs.

The force has already issued a series of dispersal orders since Christmas and has stepped up enforcement work after 15 incidents were recorded in one day alone last month.

The force was blunt: “Warning to harecoursers: do not come to Lincolnshire. We will seize all dogs and vehicles of anyone found hare coursing and we will apply to the courts for forfeiture.”

Thames Valley and Cambridgeshire also launched operations using drones, Automatic Number Plate Recognition and 4x4s.

All of the forces are part of Operation Galileo, the national initiative which is targeting the gangs.

Cambridgeshire revealed in just two weeks its Rural Crime Action Team had chased down a 4x4 and seized two dogs in one incident and seized two other vehicles during a second.

All occupants were reported for hare coursing offences.

Two further arrests were made for poaching and dispersal orders made.

Forces have been co-ordinating their work as offending increases during the winter months while fields are still less grown and there is cover of darkness.

It’s become an issue for every force in the country with agricultural land in its boundaries.

The laws are set to be toughened, the government has confirmed.

But until then, countryside communities are at risk – and arrests are continuing to be racked up. But it is dangerous work

Hampshire officers made three arrests at the weekend after chasing two 4x4s on private land. Items including items catapults, ball bearings, a large lamp and a quantity of Class B drugs were seized along with two dead hares.

Five lurcher dogs were also seized.

The force said: "We will do what we can to identify and prosecute those responsible – including using our powers to seize vehicles, dogs using to poach other animals and any other equipment linked to these offences."

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