Drones used to target Lincolnshire hare coursers

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Media captionDrones used to target Lincolnshire hare coursers

A rural police team set up to combat hare coursing in Lincolnshire is using drones to help catch offenders.

Lincolnshire Police's Operation Galileo is also using off-road vehicles to tackle coursers.

More than 2,000 calls were made to the county's police during the 2015-16 hare coursing season.

Chief Constable Bill Skelly said the introduction of drones would prove useful in gathering evidence to put before the courts.

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Last season, farmers said some areas of the county resembled the "Wild West" after an escalation in the level of violence used by coursers.

Mr Skelly said evidence gathered by drones would help "bring about a better result for our rural communities... and the right convictions for the worst offenders".

Image caption Police have introduced drones to help tackle the problem in Lincolnshire

However, Alister Green, from the National Farmers Union, said "the proof will be in the pudding".

He said he hoped the use of drones, along with other measures, would help act as a deterrent.

Traditionally offences start to rise in the autumn after crops have been harvested, and continue until the end of the season in spring.

Last year, coursers from as far afield as Sussex and North Yorkshire were dealt with by the force.

Three arrests

Hare coursing has been illegal throughout the UK since 2005. The Hunting Act 2004 makes it an offence to hunt wild mammals with dogs.

Lincolnshire Police has previously described the coursers as the "scourge of rural England", and said it was doing everything within its power to deal with those involved.

On Tuesday, a vehicle and four dogs were seized, as police made three arrests at Braceby, near Sleaford.

The force said the season had started earlier this year due to the early harvest.

Hare coursing

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  • Since 2005, hare coursing has been illegal throughout the UK. The Hunting Act 2004 makes it an offence to hunt wild mammals with dogs
  • The dogs - usually greyhounds, lurchers or salukis - are on a slip lead, threaded so it can be easily released
  • 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 dead hare is usually left in the field or thrown in a ditch

Source: Lincolnshire Police

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