New laws lead to prison and bigger fines for people convicted of hare coursing

People caught hare coursing now faces an unlimited fine and up to six months in prison after a new law came into effect this month.

Hare coursing – an illegal activity where dogs are used to chase, catch and kill hares – is a serious problem in some rural areas. Not only does it involve cruelty to wild animals, it is also associated with a range of other criminal activities, including theft, criminal damage, violence and intimidation, according to Defra.

These new measures strengthen law enforcement for hare coursing by increasing the maximum penalties for convictions under existing legislation but are also introducing new criminal offences and new powers for the courts to disqualify convicted offenders from owning or keeping dogs.

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Brown hares are a declining species but are targeted by poachers and dogs for sport. New laws via the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Act hope to tackle the issue.

Country Land and Business Association (CLA) Vice President, Gavin Lane, added: “Hare coursing continues to be a blight on rural communities. Since the legislation received Royal Assent, the CLA has been working closely with Police and Crime Commissioners across England and Wales to inform them of the new powers so Chief Constables can prepare rural police officers with training before the beginning of the hare coursing season in the autumn.”

Brown hares are widespread across the UK but numbers are declining and there are now estimated to be fewer than half a million in England.

New measures strengthen law enforcement for hare coursing by increasing the maximum penalties for convictions under existing legislation but are also introducing new criminal offences and new powers for the courts to disqualify convicted offenders from owning or keeping dogs.