POLICE say they are hot on the heels of those suspected of hare coursing in Warwickshire.
Officers are continuing with Operation Galileo, a national effort to stamp out the blood sport which involves using dogs to hunt and kill hares.
They have so far followed up on reports of hare coursing – 45 which have been made in the last year – and visited some suspected offenders at their homes. So far, five suspects have been issued with a Community Protection Warning and one 18-year-old man has been arrested. Six dogs suspected to be used for hare coursing have also been seized.
The crime is more prevalent during winter when areas of land have been cleared of crops.
And police said, in November, reports of hare coursing were received from across the county.
They are encouraging anyone who suspects someone of the crime – banned under the Hunting Act – to report them to the police.
Signs of coursing include vehicles – such as estate cars, four wheel drives or vans – parked in rural areas, particularly near large, flat open spaces, evidence of dogs and the use of binoculars or strong night lights.
Coursers will often walk along the field to frighten a hare into the open. Hares live and breed above ground and, at this time of year, are extremely vulnerable as there is little or no cover for them.
The dogs tend to be sight hounds, such as lurchers or whippet type dogs, that chase by sight rather than scent.
Officers are warning people not to approach potential coursers but to contact police giving a description of the person or group, their equipment, and the number plates of any suspicious vehicles. Callers are advised to take a photograph where possible.