Investigation ongoing after two men issued with warnings over hare coursing at Minster marshes

The activity was reported to Kent Police

Two men have been issued with Community Protection Warnings and an investigation is being carried out after a report of hare-coursing in Minster.

Hare coursing is where dogs are used to chase, catch and kill hares. The illegal blood sport can be lucrative for criminal gangs who often live stream the event.

On New Year’s Eve suspicious activity at Minster marshes was spotted by a local wildlife conservationist. He reported the activity to Kent Police.

He said: “At 1:30pm I was down Minster marshes and I saw two men that looked in their late 30s using a sighthound to carry out the illegal activity of hare coursing.

“I called 999 right away and the two were caught by the police under Operation Galileo. It’s important to know what to look out for if you see this kind of thing going on. I filmed them with my phone through my binoculars. I actually witnessed their dog catching hare and could see one of the men carrying the dead hare. They were using heat sensitive scopes to find the hares which makes it impossible for any wildlife to hide.”

Last year Kent Police teamed up with six other forces to offer a borderless response to tackle the illegal blood sport. This means that seven forces are signed up to the partnership and can work as one when exercising certain powers such as the seizure of dogs and share interactions and movements of suspects.

The forces within Kent’s partnership are made up of Bedfordshire, Cambridge, Herefordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

The agreement, which was completed with the support of the Crown Prosecution Service, supports the national initiative, Operation Galileo, which primarily aims to combat hare coursing.

Sergeant Darren Walshaw of Kent Police’s Rural Task Force said: “The agreement allows us to use anti-social behaviour legislation across the counties. This means that someone who is found to be committing hare coursing offences across several borders will be dealt with as if all of their criminality had occurred in one county and a prosecution can commence sooner. In short, if someone is involved with three incidents of anti-social behaviour linked to hare coursing, they will be prosecuted regardless of where those offences have been committed.”

Hare coursing traditionally coincides with the harvest when the fields are ploughed, making them the perfect ground for the illegal blood sport. Hare coursing causes damage to crops, harms animal welfare and threatens the rural community. It can result in intimidation and even violence.

Landowners are urged to consider blocking entrances to their fields with ditches, fencing or trees or even barriers like barrels filled with concrete.

Kent Police said an investigation is ongoing. A spokesperson said: “Kent Police was called to land near Minster, near Ramsgate, at 1.30pm on 31 December 2021 following a report of suspecting hare coursing in the area.

Two men were spoken to by officers before being issued with Community Protection Warnings, which warns them they could face court action if they are again stopped with hunting equipment in the areas of seven police forces in the east of England.

An investigation into possible offences under the Hunting Act is ongoing.”

Anyone who sees hare coursing taking place is asked to contact police immediately on 999 and provide officers with a description of the people involved, any registration numbers, vehicle descriptions and the location and direction of travel. Its important people don’t confront hare coursers or put themselves at risk.

New legislation

Plans to strengthen the powers and penalties available to tackle the barbaric practice of hare coursing have been set out by the Government today (Tuesday 4 January).

Brown hares are widespread across the UK but numbers are declining. Their population is estimated at less than half a million in England and they are listed as a priority in the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan. An iconic sight in the British countryside, the brown hare is known for its long, black-tipped ears and fast running – it can reach speeds of 45mph – and is most commonly found on arable land and open grassland. They face a range of threats, including poaching and habitat loss.

In amendments tabled to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill today, the Government has set out measures to strengthen law enforcement for hare coursing by increasing penalties, introducing new criminal offences and creating new powers for the courts to disqualify convicted offenders from owning or keeping dogs – this includes an order to reimburse the costs incurred when dogs are seized in kennels.

The proposals include:

  • Increasing the maximum penalty for trespassing in pursuit of game under the Game Acts (the Game Act 1831 and the Night Poaching Act 1828) to an unlimited fine and introducing – for the first time – the possibility of up to six months’ imprisonment.
  • Two new criminal offences: firstly, trespass with the intention of using a dog to search for or pursue a hare; and secondly, being equipped to trespass with the intention of using a dog to search for or pursue a hare both punishable on conviction by an unlimited fine and/or up to six months’ imprisonment.
  • New powers for the courts to order, on conviction, the reimbursement of costs incurred by the police in kennelling dogs seized in connection with a hare coursing-related offence.
  • New powers for the courts to make an order, on conviction, disqualifying an offender from owning or keeping a dog.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) in the South East has welcomed the extra powers.

Regional Director Tim Bamford said: “Hare coursing is a despicable crime that so often blights rural communities. We have long argued for tougher sentences and more police powers to tackle these criminal gangs and are pleased that government has listened.

“Hare coursing is a global industry, with these criminal gangs often live streaming their cruelty for the purposes of illegal betting. Their crimes go hand in hand with other acts of wanton violence and vandalism and many of our members, who so often live in isolated communities, live in fear of being targeted. This clampdown is long overdue – and we need to hold government’s feet to the fire to ensure these reforms are implemented urgently.”

The CLA published its 5-point action plan to combat hare coursing in 2020. Find it here.

32 Comments

  1. Our wildlife is in decline as it is, without morons killing with dogs for sport. These people are as bad as the fox hunters. Take their vehicles and animals away from them and increase the fines. Warnings are useless as they can just cross the border into Sussex and carry on.

  2. How utterly despicable. I hope they were given heavy sentences and/or fines as punishment. I hate how certain people think that wildlife is just there for the taking and for these poor creatures to be abused. Ba******!!!!

  3. did you know people that a horse that carries a hunter of any animal rides is a very rare breed why? because it has an a..sehole on it’s back as well as the one at its rear end,hunting with dogs will never be stopped although it was banned in law by the Labour party because the Tories get donations from said hunters,disgusting people, Roger has admitted to the fact that that is what happens the whole thing is sick as are those who partake makes them as bad as the hunters although Roger is one of only a handful of Conservatives against this evil outdated “sport” any person who allows dogs to track down and tear apart any other animal is not fit to live amongst decent law abiding citizens and before you say any thing Marva you know that I will stand up for animals over some people any day of the week including rats every animal has a purpose in this world and people should have no right to kill them for the fun of it, is not just animals in this country to be slaughtered by hunters look what the b’stards do to elephants, rhinos tigers,giraffes and pangolins, the list is endless and any one who thinks this killing is acceptable then you are not fit to live amongst decent people either this is something very close to my heart and I will stand up with others to get this barbaric killing stopped. End of rant

    • Whilst i’ve no interest in hunting, it should be remembered that big game hunting in africa is the largest source of income for conservation, in addition it provides employment for locals who’d otherwise hunt animals indiscriminately both for food and income.
      A well run game reserve will allow old infirm animals to be hunted along with previously dominant males who are past their prime.
      Hippos once they’ve lost the last of their teeth basically starve to death, the income from licensing it to be shot enables other game to be protected. The furore over the shooting of Cecil the lion, meant that the cost of shooting a lion dropped by 75% and 10,000’s of acres of previouly managed game parks lost their protections when parks closed.
      Morally reprehensible to many but an industry in itself closely linked to conservation. The UK culls thousands of deer every year, if we did’nt the herds would become too large for the land to sustain them and many deer would starve to death , not forgetting an increase in road traffic accidents with deer that would move more in search of food, there are already an estimated 30,000 collisions with deer every year.
      Massively complicated subject. As for hare coursing pretty widespread , those doing it, trespass on farm land trashing gates and hedgerows to gain access. Often using old 4×4’s which if confiscated are just seen as the cost of their “sport”.

      • The conservation of animals in Africa is a smokescreen for illegal hunting what else would you call it when young lions are allowed to roam in an enclosure when people are standing behind a wire fence with high powered rifles ready to blow the brains out of the lions? But then I am not getting into any conversation with you LC because like others you Think you know it all about every thing and you do not.The killing of any animal for fun or sport is barbaric and should be stopped

      • saint bloody Marva, Chris T,myself and others live in the real world you do not, you are somewhere away in fantasy land where every thing/one is perfect it is not, understand that and you might be taken seriously every living thing on this God forsaken earth is entitled to live and if someone thinks offenders should be shot in the face or where ever then so be it it might make others think again about what they are doing

        • I don’t think you should be calling me “Saint bloody Marva” simply because you don’t agree with my comment. People who don’t agree with you are not “in fantasy land”- they just don’t agree with you.

          • Well I Have and will not withdraw the comment you are a fantasist Marva you honestly believe that Ramsgate is paradise totally unaware of the numerous problems Ramsgate has Now Miss Rees this is the first and last time of the New Year that I am asking you to stop trolling me I have got you stopped before and will do so again yo have been told

        • Ruth I do not condone violence either although if it is the only way to deal with animal killers then bring it on animals over some people always and I will stand up for them over people any day my choice and Marva or anyone else should disrespect my choice

        • I do not believe that anywhere is “paradise”- that sort of exaggeration would not be used by me.

          A comments thread is going to have several different viewpoints.

          I doubt whether it’s true that Lesley Peeling has previously “got me stopped” from contributing to these comments, but I would very much like to know if it is.If so, what were the grounds for doing so? (And why didn’t I notice?!)

  4. Breeding mostly large animals so they can be shot and killed for fun, is certainly morally reprehensible, and one must consider what sort of person wants to do this? What is their mentality, to brag to their friend that they murdered an animal, an animal that has every right to live! There are no excuses that this is wrong, and there are other means of earning a living, than breeding lions, tigers, elephants etc just so psycho’s can kill them!

  5. Gangs who unleash dogs on hare killing sprees could face jail for the first time in a move welcomed by farmers
    planned new laws will also tackle other crimes associated with hare coursing including firearms offences,violence and intimidation of landowners standing up to gangs is often live streamed targets brown hares a declining species threatened by poaching and habitat loss
    Two new offences for hare coursing are being introduced each punishable by unlimited fines and six months in jail, a report in my daily paper today if this happens it will be a miracle.because Priti Patel is not known for carrying out her promises on anything so I for one will not hold my breath,if it gets the go ahead great, will just need to get lamping stopped, it is another evil “sport”
    en live streamed

  6. If some of you do not like my comments about animal killers don’t bother reading or replying to them in particular you Miss Rees you have contradicted every comment I have made for two years now and I think it is time you stopped.such childish behaviour.

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