Fears over rise in hare coursing in Scotland

Hare Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Hare coursing sees the animals pulled apart by dogs

Farmers and wildlife officers have reported an apparent upsurge in incidents of hare coursing.

In recent weeks, six arrests have been made in connection with the illegal practice, with hare coursing taking place in the north and the south of Scotland.

Hare coursing involves chasing hares with large dogs.

Some farmers are concerned about confronting those involved because of the possibility of violence.

Farmer and NFU representative Ian Wilson told BBC Scotland about those involved in the illegal hunting.

He said: "Not only are they disturbing hares but they could potentially be disturbing livestock too.

"Also there's any damage that's been done when they're in the fields and the crops.

"Some of them they'll take vehicles anywhere, not necessarily keeping them on the road."

Image caption Wildlife crime officers such as Daniel Sutherland have been targeting those involved

Recent arrests for hare coursing have been at least in part due to the work of specialist wildlife crime officers.

PC Daniel Sutherland said: "The hare, it suffers a torturous death. It's chased around the field for several minutes, sometimes up to five minutes.

"It's exhausted and at the end it's torn apart by a chasing dog.

"It's not nice. It's a barbaric sport that's been banned for good reason."

Although farmers may suspect hare coursing is going on in their areas, it can be difficult to tackle those involved.

Mr Wilson added: "I suppose another concern that farmers have is if they ever confront them they seem to be quite threatening and potentially violent people.

"There's a wee feeling that they might also be involved in other crimes as well."

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