The public is being asked to be on the look out for poachers who are active in Purbeck at this time of year.
Dorset Police rural crime team is hoping that increased vigilance in the coming days will help them catch criminal gangs that target this area, hunting with dogs, particularly for deer.
Once the crops are gone and the evenings are dark, the poachers come out. As well as causing animal cruelty, they can damage farmers’ land and property.
Poachers cause damage to farmers’ land and property
“Cost of damage”
Using dogs to chase animals – often deer or brown hare – is known as coursing and is illegal. For the poachers it’s a hobby and, when betting on the dogs is involved, a lucrative one.
PC Claire Dinsdale, of the Rural Crime Team, said
“The cost of damage to the farming community is huge. There is the hard work of autumn through to the winter ‘drilling’ fields with winter wheat, barley, oilseed rape and fertiliser treatments. Then to have these fields driven over is devastating.”
Dogs are used to chase and kill deer
Release dogs from moving vehicles
The dogs preferred by poachers include lurchers and Salukis. Like greyhounds, these dogs have good sight and speed for chasing.
The poachers will often use their vehicles to drive across field, releasing dogs from moving vehicles. They frequently cause damage not only to the soil or seeded crops but gates, hedgerows and fencing.
Vehicles cause damage to fields planted with winter crops
“They are cowards”
Farmers can also be threatened and intimidated by these individuals who may even leave livestock gates open on purpose.
PC Claire Dinsdale said:
“The individuals known for this are also known for theft, burglary, assaults and domestic abuse offences and fraud on elderly or vulnerable people.
“Coursing however is their favourite pastime, which their crimes can help fund. They are cowards who travel in groups and make threats against our hard-working rural communities.”
PC Claire Dinsdale of the Rural Crime Team
Dogs may be dumped
Poachers use lamps to stun the deer or headlights, then chase the deer and ram into them with their vehicles.
Dogs can be released on exhausted deer. The type of dog used means that the deer’s death is certainly not instantaneous. Some that get tired or don’t perform well can be dumped and may turn up in dog rescue centres.
If anyone spots a crime in progress they are advised to dial 999, giving the best location they can, vehicle registrations or best description. If the call is less urgent, where the poachers have recently left the scene or left a dog behind – call 101.
If anyone makes a relevant discovery the next day – damaged gates, crops, illegal off-roading or carcasses – they are advised to report this online.
The public is asked to report anything suspicious