Rural crime team reformed after ‘massive surge’ in South Cambs hare coursing

Cllr Peter Topping

Cllr Peter Topping - Credit: Archant

Farmers have been left concerned after a rise in hare coursing in the South Cambs area in recent weeks.

Police were alerted to one incident in the Thriplow area at lunchtime on Thursday.

They carried out a thorough search of the area, but couldn’t find any trace of the suspects and their dogs.

But they do know that the men were using a silver Citroen Berlingo vehicle.

Councillor Peter Topping, who represents Thriplow on Cambridgeshire County Council, says there is a worrying trend of hare coursing in the area.

He said: “I spoke to local farmers earlier last week and they have confirmed that this is on the rise in recent weeks.

“It is very worrying for the rural community as it shows people are out breaking the law and they tend to react aggressively if confronted by landowners.

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“I hope the police will take this issue very seriously, as they have done in the Fens in the past.”

An RSPCA spokeswoman said: “Hare coursing is truly horrific in terms of animal welfare.

“It involves greyhounds being set upon hares for a so-called sport –leading to long and torturous deaths as dogs wrestle each other for the small animals and tear them apart gradually.

“Our inspectors, many well used to seeing animal cruelty first hand, have often described the footage they have seen of this barbaric custom as bloodcurdling and the sound the hare makes as it is being torn apart as heart wrenching.

“The RSPCA was extremely relieved when the Hunting Act 2004 made it illegal to treat wildlife in this barbaric and bloodthirsty way.”

Cambs police recently reformed its Rural Crime Action Team following a ‘massive surge’ in hare coursing in the county.

Incidents of hare coursing have soared from 241 cases between December 2012 and November 2013, to more than 700 from December 2014 to November last year.

Chief Insp James Sutherland said: “Our goals are simple – we want to drive hare coursing out of Cambridgeshire, reduce the financial cost of rural crime and let those in the rural community know that we are behind them.”

Brian Finnerty from the National Farmers Union said the issue is ‘of real concern’ to farmers, and is particularly rife around this time of year.