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Government legislating to stop hare coursing crime welcomed by Newark MP Robert Jenrick

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Plans to strengthen the powers and penalties available to tackle the practice of hare coursing have been set out by the government.

It has been welcomed by the Newark MP Robert Jenrick.

A hare. Credit: Natural England (54103292)
A hare. Credit: Natural England (54103292)

He said: “I’ve campaigned on this for some time at the request of numerous local farmers, especially in the east (Collingham area) and north of the county.

“I’m pleased the government is cracking down on cruel, illegal hare coursing.

“Many local farmers have raised this with me, showing me the damage done to their farms by the criminals.

“It’s also very disturbing for them and their families to have these criminals turn up on their land, often in the middle of the night. I’m calling on Nottinghamshire Police to take robust action.”

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.

They face a range of threats, including poaching and habitat loss.

Hare coursing is an illegal activity where dogs are used to chase, catch and kill hares and is a serious problem in some rural areas.

In amendments tabled to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, 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 courts to disqualify convicted offenders from owning or keeping dogs, and an order to reimburse the costs incurred when dogs are seized in kennels.

The proposals also include increasing the maximum penalty for trespassing in pursuit of game with up to six months’ imprisonment.

There are also new criminal offences of trespass with the intention of using a dog to search for or pursue a hare; and 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.

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