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Vigilance of Rural Watch volunteers pays off as suspected poachers stopped within minutes

Last modified: 28 July 2020 at 03:20pm

Two suspected poachers were stopped and their high-powered lamps seized, thanks to a team of North Yorkshire Police's rural volunteers.

Local residents, part of a North Yorkshire Police Mobile Rural Watch group, spotted men on land near Appletreewick in Craven, just after midnight in the early hours of Friday 24 July 2020.

They called the force’s Control Room on 999, reporting men in a silver Toyota RAV4 with dogs, shining a red torch into a field. Officers on patrol nearby responded immediately, arriving in the rural location within 15 minutes.

The two men were stopped and searched. A dead hare was located, and battery-powered red lamps were seized as evidence. Further police enquiries are ongoing.

Poaching harms not only wildlife, but also the local community. Hare coursing can result in damage to crops, livestock and field gates, and leave landowners intimidated and fearful. North Yorkshire Police were called to deal with 115 incidents of poaching in January 2020, 77 incidents in February, 53 in March and 52 in April.

Mobile Rural Watch groups are made up of farmers, landowners, gamekeepers, rural business and estate owners, as well as anyone who lives or works in a rural area. They support North Yorkshire Police’s Neighbourhood Policing Teams and Rural Taskforce, acting as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the police in the fight against countryside crime.

The groups communicate with each other via phone and WhatsApp, supported by North Yorkshire Police officers and PCSOs. There are now 25 such groups, representing more than 1,000 members of the public right across the county – including the Upper Wharfedale group who were instrumental in locating the suspected poachers near Appletreewick.

Rural Watch volunteers have also proved invaluable throughout the coronavirus pandemic, to reassure residents and businesses in isolated areas, and help officers and PCSOs engage with rural communities.

To find out more about Mobile Rural Watch, or to join a group, contact North Yorkshire Police and speak to your local Neighbourhood Policing Team or Rural Taskforce officer.

Posted on in News stories, Rural