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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 September, 2003, 10:14 GMT 11:14 UK
Illegal hare appeal by police
Police have appealed for help to clamp down on the illegal hunting of hares in rural Gloucestershire.

The unlicensed hunting of the animals involves groups of people with dogs who spread themselves in a line across a field, say police.

When a hare is disturbed, the dogs are let loose to chase it down.

Pc George Lager, rural beat officer for the South Cotswolds said: "It is an unfair contest, which always ends in the death of the hare and the participants continue until there are no animals left to kill.

"These people are also trespassing and often use this activity to scout land and property for future crimes."

200 fine

He said the men carrying out this practice were well-organised and difficult to catch and the help of the public was crucial in tracking them down.

"Mobile phones and the use of 4x4 vehicles mean that offenders can gather at short notice at fields hidden down the country lanes of the Cotswolds," he said.

"We need farmers and members of the public, who are out and about in the countryside, to be our eyes and ears and call us immediately if they spot any such gatherings.

"We are also asking landowners to video any suspicious activity they see, rather than confronting people, so that it places them at less risk," he said.

The maximum fine for anyone caught hare coursing is 200.

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