A Gloucestershire farmer, appearing anonymously in a video posted by Gloucestershire’s Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, has highlighted the severity of hare coursing in the southwest of England.

Hare coursing is an illegal activity where dogs are used to chase, catch and kill hares. It has been a hot topic among rural communities this week, following the announcement that government has submitted plans to strengthen the powers to tackle hare coursing for legislation debate at the beginning of the week (Tuesday, January 4).

This farmer has described hare coursing as “mentally quite hard to deal with”. His area has had 44 hits this winter, whereas they used to have two/three a year.

“What happens now is we’ve got organised crime gangs coming out,” he said, adding that “they’re selling the footage to gambling organisations”.

He claimed that there are “strong reports” that they have firearms and said they “definitely have knives”.

“We’ve had knives left outside the house where they have killed hares just outside the girls’ bedrooms,” he said, referring to his children.

“And they will also chase the farmers themselves,” he continued.

Farmers’ wives going out to confront them have been chased off, farmers confronting them in their vehicles have had their vehicles rammed, and they’re also running away from us when we do get together and chase them off, no lights for instance, crossing the A46 at 70/80m/h.

“They’re using vehicles that are unregistered, untaxed that have false plates on them to evade the police.

“They will smash locks off gates, they will drive into fields smashing through a locked gate with their vehicle,” he said.

As well of damage to property, all of this creates what the farmers called a “ripple of worry and angst” in the wider community.

“My wife and children obviously hear what happens in the night and they’re at home worried,” he explained.

In his own case, he said his range of emotions goes from depression, to being really upset, to anger.

In the video, the farmer urged people to be careful if they come into contact with these people who are hare coursing.