Dorset Police’s Rural Crime Team have released a warning that hare and deer coursers are targeting farms in the county.

A recent deer coursing incident occurred overnight on Friday, November 27, in fields close to the Christchurch Bypass. The female deer was bitten, dragged along with bungee cords attached and then dumped.

Police Constable Claire Dinsdale, of the Rural Crime Team, said: “The individuals known for this are also often known for theft, burglary, assaults and domestic abuse offences, as well as 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.

“Anyone suffering from these crimes must report it to us and can do so in absolute confidence.

“Local residents, cyclists, horse riders and motorists are asked to call 999 for any suspected hare or deer coursing in progress. It can be day or night, with incidents increasing from autumn to winter.

“We would also encourage people to report any vehicles or people on foot with their dogs acting suspiciously in country lanes, laybys and fields for these purposes. Vehicles can be older style 4x4s or cars. The type of dog is distinctive too - most commonly a Lurcher or Saluki type.

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“Hotspot areas for coursing include the Cranborne Chase area of Dorset on the Wiltshire and Hampshire border and either side of the A354 from Blandford, up past Sixpenny Handley into Wiltshire, as well as various back roads off the A354.

“Deer coursing hotspots include the rural land around Burton and Christchurch as well as areas around Dorchester such as West Knighton, West Stafford, Bincombe, Crossways, Owemoigne, Wool, Lulworth, Lytchett and Wareham.

“Consider filming them if safe to do so and they are unaware and capture vehicle registrations.

“Dorset Police will take robust action using a variety of legislation and other tactics.

PC Dinsdale added: “The cost of damage to the farming community is huge. There is the hard work of autumn to winter ‘drilling’ seeding fields with winter wheat, barley, oilseed rape and fertiliser treatments, only to then have these fields driven over.

“There is the psychological element too and farmers in particular suffer high rates of depression and suicide."

If any signs of coursing or poaching are discovered after the offenders have gone, please report promptly using or visiting Dorset Police Do It Online at: