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Man due in court charged with hare coursing, as poaching clampdown continues

Last modified: 23 November 2020 at 04:56pm

A night out in North Yorkshire for one suspected poacher led to a stay in police custody, a day in court, and a COVID-19 ticket.

A North Yorkshire Police officer was on routine patrol near Great Edstone, in Ryedale, just before 1am on Sunday 22 November 2020, when he spotted lamps flashing across fields.

The officer then found a parked car with a man sitting inside. Nearby was another man, carrying a lamp, a dead hare, and with a lurcher dog on a lead.

The man with the dog was arrested and taken to custody. The 31-year-old, from Guisborough, was subsequently charged with hunting a wild mammal with dogs, and possessing a lock knife, which was found on him during a search. He is due to appear in court next month. In the meantime, his bail conditions prevent him from entering the county of North Yorkshire.

In addition, both men were issued with COVID-19 fixed penalty notices, for contravening the requirement not to leave the place where they are living.

Earlier this year, North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce launched a campaign urging members of the public to report any suspicious activity in rural areas that could be linked to poaching, such as unusual vehicle movements or lights in darkness.

Residents are asked to call North Yorkshire Police on 101 if it isn’t urgent – or 999 in an emergency or if a crime is in progress. This includes if poaching is taking place – it is a crime, and should be reported as such.

Under Operation Figaro, North Yorkshire Police is robustly and proactively targeting poachers to put a stop to their illegal activity. The work runs alongside Operation Galileo, a national campaign bringing together forces particularly affected by poaching.

Inspector Matt Hagen, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said officers understood the terrible impact of poaching on rural communities. He said: “Poachers often have no regard for farmers and landowners, causing thousands of pounds of damage to crops. Victims are often intimidated or even threatened with violence if they challenge offenders, leaving them feeling vulnerable to further crimes, particularly in isolated areas.”

On average, police are called to more than 50 incidents of suspected poaching in North Yorkshire every month. Incidents tend to increase significantly from August onwards, during and after harvest time.

Anyone caught poaching will be summonsed to court, while those stopped in suspicious circumstances will be issued with a community protection warning or a community protection notice – breaches of which will be prosecuted.

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