NFU East Anglia hopes Government proposals to get tougher on illegal hare coursing will be the light at the end of the tunnel for thousands of farmers across the region.
After sustained lobbying by the NFU and other rural organisations demonstrating the violence and intimidation that hare coursing has inflicted on farmers and rural communities, as well as the impact it has on wild hare populations, the government has tabled its own amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
These amendments reflect what the NFU has been urging the government to implement for many years and could deliver crucial changes that would help deter criminals from taking part in illegal hare coursing. They enable police forces to seize more dogs, courts to ban convicted offenders from keeping dogs and to strengthen penalties by lifting the existing limit on fines.
NFU Regional Director Gary Ford said: “This is a positive start to 2022. These government amendments will strengthen the law and finally give rural police forces and the courts the necessary powers to tackle hare coursing and the wider problem of organised crime.
“Our members have had to deal with the impact of illegal hare coursing - and its associated heinous activities - for far too long. They will be relieved that, after prolonged campaigning by the NFU and others, there is now light at the end of the tunnel.
“In our rural crime survey published in April, two thirds of respondents in East Anglia had suffered from hare coursing in the previous year and members spoke about the threats, violence and intimidation that goes with it.
“We hope these amendments will signal the start of a real crackdown on these organised gangs of criminals who break onto fields to let dogs loose to chase hares, causing huge damage to crops, farm property and wildlife, while intimidating people living in rural communities.”