Police promise clampdown on hare coursing this autumn
Police have promised to clampdown on hare coursing this autumn.
Betting on the blood sport, in which hares are chased and killed by dogs, is big business but Staffordshire Police have signed up to Operation Galileo.
The South Staffordshire local policing team will work with West Mercia Police and estate bosses in the region.
New Government legislation introduced in August will see longer sentences and increased powers to tackle hare coursing nationally.
This can include an unlimited fine and a possible prison sentence of up to six months.
Rural and Wildlife Crime Officer PSCO Louise Jones said: "Hare coursing is a recurring problem across rural communities. Not only is there the issue of animal welfare, but the wider impact on the community.
"This can include vandalism of property, loss of income for farmers and landowners, theft, intimidation, and road traffic issues due to the driving of unlicensed and uninsured vehicles."
He added: "Prevention is the focus of Operation Galileo. Residents living in our rural communities play a vital part in helping us gather intelligence.
"We are asking residents to report any unusual activity or patterns of behaviour they may witness. This helps us to build up a better understanding of hare coursing in the area, and ultimately prosecute those involved."
Bradford Estates is among those working with police on the issue. Property director Steve Farrow is determined to disrupt the hare coursing season this year.
He said: "As we enter hare coursing season, we are working in close partnership with the West Mercia and Staffordshire police forces on Operation Galileo.
"Hare coursing is a concern in our local community at this time of year and we urge residents to report and remain vigilant to disrupt those criminals who course hares."
Police are urging residents to report anything suspicious via their virtual neighbourhood watch WhatsApp group, which involves residents, businesses, tenants and farmers who are spread over the Staffordshire and West Mercia area.