Harvests are at risk and thousands of pounds worth of crops damaged in North Dorset by off-road drivers suspected to be hare coursers - and they dumped dead hares at a nearby petrol station.

A number of incidents have taken place in the Tarrant Valley around the A354 - and police have issued the make, model and registration number of a vehicle that they'd like to examine in connection with these events.

On these occasions off road drivers have entered fields at night and driven over crops.

This has caused significant damage to crops, potentially threatening an entire season’s harvest in some cases and resulting in thousands of pounds worth of damage.

Crops were substantially damaged by drivers on Wednesday, May 19 and gates were also damaged between 12pm on Friday, May 21 and 8am on Saturday, May 22.

In a grizzly development, a number of dead hares were found dumped at a petrol station in Verwood on Wednesday, May 19, which police believe could be linked to the off roading.

They have shared details of a car in which they are interested in connection with the hares.

Inspector Simon Perry, of North Dorset police, said: “We are carrying out increased targeted patrols in the areas impacted and conducting investigations into this emerging series of criminal damage, which we believe is directly linked to the act of hare coursing. Hare coursing involves chasing hares with dogs and is illegal under the Hunting Act 2004.

“We are encouraging landowners to review their security measures, including considering environmental security measures such as ditches.

“We also have a dedicated team of rural crime officers who have been visiting landowners and can be contacted by anyone needing security advice. They can be contacted via 101 or online at dorset.police.uk.

“As part of our enquiries into these matters, we have identified a black Subaru estate, which is believed to have been involved in the dumping of hare carcasses in the Verwood area.

"I can confirm the registration for this vehicle is DU05 OKO and I would urge anyone who has seen this vehicle in the vicinity to please contact us.

“I would also urge anyone who has witnessed any suspicious activity or has any information that might assist our investigation to get in touch.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police at dorset.police.uk, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55210079374.

Alternatively, to stay 100 per cent anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers online at Crimestoppers-uk.org or call freephone 0800 555 111.