Four men charged and arrested following spate of hare coursing in Lothians and across Scotland

Men were caught committing the crime in several areas across Scotland including Midlothian and East Lothian.

Four men have been arrested and charged in connection with wildlife crime offences across the Scottish Borders, Midlothian, East Lothian and Stirling.

Between March 1 and April 29 this year officers received a number of reports of possible hare coursing activity in the Stirling, Haddington, Duns, Kelso, Gifford and Kippen.

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Police traced a silver Subaru Forrester with four people and six dogs in Station Road, Kippen.

Hare coursing is a bloodsport where dogs are used to chase, catch and kill hares. It is illegal in the UK

Four men, aged 28, 51, 29 and 44, have been charged in connection with wildlife crime offences and a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

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Detective Chief Inspector Bryan Burns, of Dalkeith CID, said: “I am pleased those responsible for these cruel acts have been identified and charged and is a great example of our commitment to tackling wildlife crime.

“Police Scotland, in partnership with other agencies, takes wildlife crime seriously and I would encourage members of the public to call 101 to report any incidents where wildlife crime is suspected.”

Hare coursing, which is also known as hare poaching, is the pursuit of hares with hounds which chase the hare by sight and not by scent.

The cruel act is often an organised event in which dogs are assessed in their skill in hunting live hares. It’s usually a competitive activity where substantial sums of money are bet.

It poses an issue for both animal welfare and communities in the countryside.

Sections 1 and 5 of the Hunting Act 2004 are the most relevant to hare coursing cases.