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Coursers changing tactics to target deer

PUBLISHED: 08:35 05 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:16 05 December 2019

Hare coursers could be turning their attentions to deer  Picture: Robin Waters

Hare coursers could be turning their attentions to deer Picture: Robin Waters

(c) copyright citizenside.com

Hare coursing gangs are changing tactics and targeting deer after a police crackdown on the illegal bloodsport.

Police officers team up to patrol the Fens for coursers   Picture: Ian BurtPolice officers team up to patrol the Fens for coursers Picture: Ian Burt

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.

Hare coursing was banned by the 2004 Hunting Act, which also outlawed fox and deer hunting with dogs  Picture: ArchantHare coursing was banned by the 2004 Hunting Act, which also outlawed fox and deer hunting with dogs Picture: Archant

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.

A sign warning against hare coursing. Picture: Norfolk ConstabularyA sign warning against hare coursing. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

"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.

An officer patrols the lanes on a quad bike   Picture: Ian BurtAn officer patrols the lanes on a quad bike Picture: Ian Burt

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.

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