Local landowners are calling for a major crackdown on criminal hare coursing gangs.
They want to see specific sentencing guidelines brought in to target the criminal gangs betting on the killing of hares with dogs.
Hare coursing, where dogs compete against each other in pursuit of a hare, was outlawed by the 2004 Hunting Act but now takes place illegally.
Following thousands of incidents of hare coursing throughout autumn and winter, the CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses has set out an action plan on how to bring those involved to justice.
The organisation is calling for tailored sentencing guidelines such as vehicle seizure and compensation paid to the landowner for any damage caused.
CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said: “Hare coursing is an abhorrent crime that many of our members have been victims of. Coursers often use threatening and intimidating behaviour, criminal violence and injury, which is wholly unacceptable.
“Not all police forces and magistrates take it seriously enough. Fines can be as low as £30 while the gambling side of the crime generates thousands so there is no deterrent and perpetrators are getting away with it scot-free.”
A farmer from the East Riding in Yorkshire who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “Criminals involved in this illegal activity – which is banned – often threaten landowners and damage property.
“These criminal gangs are still travelling to our area, trespassing on private farmland to chase hares with dogs. The only way to stop these criminals is to report any suspicious activity to the police.”
CLA North Adviser Libby Bateman said: “Police forces have the power to tackle these criminals but they need evidence to catch perpetrators and bring them to justice.
“This is why we encourage people to record and report any suspicious activity to the police. This can be done by dialling 101 to speak to your local police force or contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”