Coursers changing tactics to target deer
PUBLISHED: 08:35 05 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:16 05 December 2019
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Hare coursing gangs are changing tactics and targeting deer after a police crackdown on the illegal bloodsport.
Reported incidents fell by half over the winter of 2018/19, according to the latest rural crime figures.
Police say there were 342 reports of the hare coursing received in 2017/18, compared to 163 last winter - a fall of 52.2pc.
Operating under the banner of Operation Galileo, rural crime teams have prioritised hotspots in the Fens, west and south Norfolk.
Drones have been used along with 4x4s and quad bikes to patrol remote areas of countryside where gangs operate.
PC Jon Chandler, district coordinator for rural crime in the west of the county, said he put the reduction down to hard work by officers and the dry weather during the early part of the coursing season.
He said offenders were changing the way they operate and the quarry they hunted in a bid to evade police.
"There's certainly been a change of tactics this year, when they're going and where they're going as well," he said.
"We've been seeing a lot more night time coursing and also going after deer, especially in south Norfolk which has a high population of Chinese water deer.
"They're also using bigger lurchers to go after bigger deer. They know it's more difficult to catch them when it's dark, we just have to try to match their tactics."
Coursing showed one of the greatest falls in the latest statistics.
The force's Raise the Alarm campaign, which involved fitting alarms to church roofs, has seen a 57pc reduction in lead thefts since church charities donated £330,000 to protect vulnerable places of worship.
Burglaries went down from 1190 to 846, while fuel thefts fell from 201 to 170.
But serious or fatal crashes on rural roads increased from 241 to 273. And there were also increases in farm machinery thefts, which rose from 64 to 69 and business burglaries, which were up from 543 to 609.