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Tackling Hare Coursing – West Mercia Joins Operation Galileo

West Mercia Police are pleased to announce they have joined Operation Galileo, a nationwide plan targeting those engaged in illegal hare coursing, by working with 23 other police forces we will endeavor to curtail this cruel and, quite frankly outdated so called ‘sport’. By working with other forces across the country, we can share information and intelligence on offenders who cause the greatest harm to our rural communities. Prevention will be the focus of Operation Galileo, supported by more sophisticated prosecution and intelligence gathering capabilities.

Hare coursers do not just have a negative impact on farming communities. The people that partake in this cruel pursuit are responsible for other crimes across our rural communities and our road network.

People who live in our rural communities play a vital part in helping us gather intelligence, and we really need your support.

What is hare coursing?

Hare coursing is a bloodsport where dogs are used to chase, catch and kill hares.

It is illegal in the UK under the Hunting Act 2004, which makes it an offence to hunt wild mammals with dogs. Anyone convicted of the offence can receive a fine of up to £5,000 by a Magistrates’ Court.

Legislation also gives police the powers to seize and detain vehicles until the court hearing. Powers to seize vehicles may also be granted under section 30 of the Game Act 1831.

Hare coursing tends to start after harvest when large areas of land have been cleared of standing crops. It usually occurs at dawn or dusk.

Our rural landscape makes it a popular area for hare coursing. It often attracts coursers from outside of the county.

What to look out for

  • You can help us fight hare coursing by looking out for activity in your area.
  • The most obvious sign is groups of vehicles parked in a rural area, perhaps by a gateway to farmland, on a grass verge, on a farm track or bridle path.
  • They will usually be estate cars, four wheel drives or vans. It will be obvious looking inside whether there is evidence of dogs or not.
  • They often travel in convoy, with vans at the front and rear containing minders.
  • They will often use binoculars to spot hares.
  • Coursers will often walk along the edge of a field to frighten a hare into the open.

Report it

  • If you see hare coursing taking place, or suspect it is happening in your area contact us immediately on 101. We advise that you do not approach the participants.
  • It may help us if you can answer any of the questions when reporting wildlife crime:
  • Are the suspect/s alone or in a group?
  • Are they trespassing?
  • Do they have equipment with them?
  • Do they have dogs or firearms with them?
  • Where are they going?
  • Where have they been?
  • What do they look like?
  • Have they any vehicles?
  • What are the number plates and vehicle models?
  • Can you safely get a photograph?