Police are appealing for information after a wave of illegal hare coursing events took place this weekend across the county of Befordshire.
According to Farmers Weekly "The events were held across the county following the funeral of a member of the travelling community who is said to have been a prolific hare courser.
Dozens of people travelled to Bedfordshire to take part in the illegal events on Wednesday 10 November."
Footage shared on social media showed several incidents taking place of illegal hare coursing, an activity which was made illegal under the 2004 Hunting Act. In one video, the footage shows multiple 4x4 off-road cars parked up on the road alongside a field. Around 100 men are shown cheering as one of the dogs catches a hare.
Another video shared by TV presenter and conservationist Chris Packham shows another incident taking place in which police officers can be seen watching on as a hare is chased by dogs across a field. It is difficult to tell from the footage whether the hare manages to escape. Packham commented - "Bedfordshire , U.K. 2021 . Lawless - even with the law in attendance . A horror show of cruelty, criminality and disrespect for life and livelihoods."
Responding to the evidence, Bedfordshire Police's Rural Crime Team stated “Such behaviour will not be tolerated in our county, and we do not underestimate the effect it has had on our Bedford residents and businesses.”
Chief Constable Basra has made appeals for more information and footage and said: “We know people will have seen or recorded the incident and we are asking them to share their accounts and footage with us. We also want to hear from people who have been affected by the incident, as your accounts could be key to our investigation.
WHAT IS HARE COURSING?
Hare coursing is the pursuit of hares with grey hounds as opposed to the harriers, beagles or bassets involved in hare hunting. Hare coursing was made illegal in 2004 under the Hunting Act however it still continues illegally across many counties.
Some of the main areas where it takes place are Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk and criminal gangs often film the events for later betting use. In hare coursing there are usually two hounds chasing the hare and bets are placed on which of the two dogs will be able to kill the hare quicker.
This often results in a tug of war between the two dogs over the hare and this unsurprisingly causes immense pain and suffering to the terrified animal being ripped to pieces.
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