Gangsters, guns and unlicensed gambling: welcome to the world of hare coursing

Concern about hare coursing using lurchers in England

source: Steve Boggan
Independent January 5 2002 p3

There is concern about a growing trend of hare coursing in England, using lurchers. Hare coursing is legal, but those involved will often invade land, threatening landowners if they protest, sometimes with guns. Illegal gambling is also involved. Counties near London, such as Essex, Kent, Hertfordshire, and Thames Valley counties are especially affected. Gatherings may involve up to 50 men and their dogs, and the London underworld appears to be involved. Fines that can be imposed for trespassing if culprits are caught are too low to act as a deterrent.

Animal welfare groups have allied with rural communities to oppose illegal hare coursing. Land may be invaded despite restrictions to control foot and mouth disease. Farmers may kill hares themselves so that their land becomes less attractive to gangs. The Mammal Society is concerned about the number of brown hares in Britain, estimated at 700,000, while there are some 242,000 dogs active in hare coursing.