Coursers go to ground as Norfolk police launch major hare coursing operation

PUBLISHED: 14:11 14 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:20 15 September 2018

Norfolk Police officers ready to go out on a hare coursing operation. Picture: Ian Burt

Norfolk Police officers ready to go out on a hare coursing operation. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

There were thumbs up from farmers as police launched this winter’s operation against hare coursing.

High profile patrols were carried out on major routes in the Downham Market area today, while officers used 4x4s and a quad bike to cover remote farm tracks far from public roads.

At a briefing this morning, rural crime manager PC Jonathan Chandler told colleagues coursing had started earlier than usual in Norfolk after an early harvest. He said a number of calls had been received from people reporting tracks across fields.

“We’ve had a number of dead hares found locally so they’re certainly out and about,” he said.

Officers were given details of vehicles reported in connection with recent coursing incidents, before they set out on patrol.

Similar operations were also being carried out across neighbouring Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire today, under the banner of Operation Galileo - the region-wide police campaign against coursing.

“Not a bad view from the office,” said PC Ryan Williams, as he pulled the 4x4 he was crewing with PC Kayleigh Marsh onto a beet pad overlooking the gently rolling vista south of RAF Marham.

Our view included hares lolloping through stubble fields and a family of roe deer. Soaring red kites, marsh harriers and buzzards were joined by a pair of the RAF’s new F-35 Lightning jets, which roared overhead before returning to the base to touch down.

Remote tracks criss-cross vast field systems where the Fens rise to greet the Brecks, with mile upon mile of sparsely-inhabited countryside.

“They go down these tracks to try to keep out of the way of the public,” said PC Williams. “We’ve even had them right on the marshes at North Wootton.”

He added even if no coursers were sighted, police presence gave reassurance to farm workers and rural residents.

“Lots of farmers have seen us out and about today,” said PC Marsh.

As officers met up for a lunchtime refreshment stop, PC Chandler said the day had so for passed without incident.

“I’d like to think we’ve deterred it,” he said. “I’ve spoken to several farmers and they’ve not seen anyone about.

“They’re all very pro and want more of it. They like the fact we’ve got the off-road vehicles.”

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