Police in Lincolnshire have said more than 1,000 hare coursing incidents were reported across the county over a period of just seven months.
The figure is the second-lowest on record for the county but still remains alarmingly high.
The force said that between September 2019 and March 2020 1,048 incidents were reported.
It compares to:
- 873 reports in over the same period in 2018-2019;
- 1,365 reports in 2017 to 2018, and
- 1,965 for 2016 to 2017.
Chief Inspector Phil Vickers, who leads rural crime for the force, said: “The last 12 months have been challenging times for our farming and rural communities – economic uncertainty, flooding and feeding the nation under lock-down.
"During this time, offenders have sought to continue their activities in fields across Lincolnshire, with hare coursers travelling significant distances to trespass, cause damage and intimidate local people.
Our approach under Operation Galileo last season was to focus on prevention – stopping the offences from happening, making use of tactics that really impact on offenders.
“We have been able to seize dogs and have them forfeited at court – this continues to be the sanction that has the greatest impact and makes Lincolnshire an unattractive place for offenders to visit.
"We are working with partners to secure a change in the law, that give courts the powers they need to appropriately deal with hare coursing.
A total of 1,048 incidents, from September 2019 to March 2020, is the second-lowest on record, but every incident is one too many and we will continue to adapt our working – the only acceptable level is zero.
“I’m hugely grateful for the support we have had from partners in the NFU, CLA and other local organisations.
"We have encouraged local communities to report suspicious behaviour at the earliest opportunity, and it is that information that has been key to us getting ahead of offenders.
“We have made use of technology – drones and farmers are routinely passing locations to our Control Room and giving the 'What3 Words' location – that has helped us put our officers in the right place, and is a good example of us all changing our practices to prevent crime.”