The Game Act is, broadly speaking, more practical for police to bring charges under -Sophie McCandlish

Unless you have experienced it, it is difficult to appreciate just how serious poaching is.

Poaching is an ongoing issue in the countryside

The word itself has been used for centuries and the portrayal of a poacher in films and on TV tends to be someone who is taking a rabbit for the pot and needs to put food on the table.

However, the reality is far more sinister and the word poaching covers not just illegally taking and killing game, deer or fish, but also injuring and pursuing them. This, of course, includes hare coursing.

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Aside from the brutality of it, what marks this particular crime stand out is the high stakes, illegal betting attached to it and with that comes the very real threat to anyone who challenges it.

The farming and countryside organisations which make up the coalition calling for a rethink on the Game Act, along with MP Graham Stuart, whose constituency in Beverley and Holderness suffers from illegal poaching, have all reported farmers and landowners being threatened, intimidated and in some cases assaulted for challenging poachers.

The letter sent to the Environment Minister by organisations including the NFU, National Rural Network and Kennel Club, is asking for police to have the powers to deal with this sort of crime effectively and that is why they are looking at this particular piece of legislation.

While the Hunting Act does specifically ban hare coursing, the Game Act is, broadly speaking, more practical for police to bring charges under. There should be some consideration given to strengthening an act which could lead to a more effective deterrent of what is a merciless crime.

The farmers and landowners who are subjected to poaching are having to stand by while this is happening knowing that confronting the people involved could lead to threats to themselves, their families and their business.

Operation Galileo, a national initiative to stamp out hare coursing is having an effect but while it improves in one place it can drive the problem elsewhere.

Surely, it is important police forces have every possible weapon in their armoury to fight this crime and that could include looking again at this legislation.