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Last Updated: Monday, 11 April, 2005, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
Five released after hares arrests
Aberdeen Sheriff Court sign
The five are due to appear at Aberdeen Sheriff Court
Police have released five men who were arrested in an operation against the illegal hunting of hares on an estate in north east Scotland.

Operation Hartley was launched at Fasque, in Fettercairn, on Saturday, and was assisted by estate staff and the SSPCA.

Police said uninvited van loads of people had been walking onto the land and chasing hares with lurcher dogs.

Hare coursing on the estate is said to have been "a real problem".

The five were released pending further investigations.

Commercial estate

Constable David MacKinnon, the wildlife crime officer who co-ordinated the operation, said: "Fasque is run as a commercial estate where good quality shooting is enjoyed by fee-paying guests."

People hare coursing on the estate were not only putting themselves at risk, but were committing an offence and jeopardising its commercial viability, he added.

It is an offence under the Wild Mammals Protection (Scotland) Act 2002, which forbids the deliberate hunting of a wild mammal with a dog.

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