Specials brought in to tackle hare coursing in 'Wild West' county
Extra patrols are taking place in parts of Lincolnshire at weekends in a bid to tackle a spate of recent incidents involving hare coursers.
Farmers have said some areas resemble the "Wild West" after an escalation in the level of violence used by coursers.
The National Farmers Union said the problem had got "out of control", with one incident before Christmas involving 50 men and children.
Last week, 75 incidents were reported to police.
Supt Mark Housley, from Lincolnshire Police, said rural crime teams are working with specials for the first time in a bid to stamp out the illegal activity.
"The peak time for this activity is weekends - and we have highly trained, passionate members of our community - called specials - who want to help the community they are part of," he said.
"It's an absolutely perfect solution to meet some of the demands we have."
Some farmers have criticised the lack of a police presence in the past, but welcomed the initiative.
One farmer, who does not want to be identified, said: "It's like the Wild West out here - it's completely lawless."
Another farmer said: "They would kill us if they could - they have got no scruples, or respect for anybody."
Others have reported threats of violence, cars being rammed, verbal abuse and property and crops being damaged.
Mr Housley said: "They are absolutely right - we should be doing something about it - and we are."
"This is an important issue, when you've got people coming to our county, making threats, abusing people, and committing anti-social behaviour," he added.
Traditionally, coursing starts to rise in the autumn after crops have been harvested. They then continue until spring.
What is hare coursing?
- The coursers will walk along the field to frighten the hare into the open
- The dog catches the hare and kills it by "ragging" it - shaking the animal in its teeth
- The dogs - usually greyhounds, lurchers or salukis - are on a slip lead, threaded so it can be easily released
- The dead hare is usually left in the field or thrown in a ditch
- Since 2005, hare coursing has been illegal throughout the UK. The Hunting Act 2004 makes it an offence to hunt wild mammals with dogs
Source: Lincolnshire Police