The Hare Preservation Trust, has reported an 80% decline in the number of brown hares in the UK in the past 100 years, some of this down to the regular shooting of them as ‘game’. Aside from shooting, there are two main ways that hares are hunted in the UK, both are as brutal as each other, both are illegal under the 2004 hunting act.
There are currently 22 packs of Harriers and 62 packs of Beagles registered with the Association Of Master Of Harriers and Beagles in the UK (AMHB).
Hare coursing involves two dogs, generally greyhounds or lurchers, racing to catch a fleeing hound with the end result being the hare killed by the ‘winning’ dog, or both dogs catching the hair and tugging it to death.The chase can last up to 90 minutes and often involves several near misses whereby the hare will narrowly avoid the hound – causing them psychical injury and stress.
In addition to the cruelty, the Burns report concluded that illegal hare coursing also causes other problems including the unnecessary deaths of hares in order to deter illegal coursers:
”Illegal coursing is sometimes accompanied by threats or physical violence to landowners, leading some farmers and landowners to ‘shoot out’ hares in order to deter illegal coursers and poachers.”
The burns inquiry was published back in June 2000, but there are still reports to this day of hare coursers being extremely violent towards landowners. Police have really cracked down on hare coursing due to the aggression towards landowners and farmers but it does still take place.
DON’T COME TO LINCOLNSHIRE – well, that is if you are planning on hare coursing. You are not welcome. Hare coursing is illegal. Dogs seized.
— Stephen Woodcock (@SCChiefLincs) 4 September 2016
Unlike foxes that are hunted with the use of foxhounds, hares are often pursued with beagles, harriers or basset hounds. These hounds have a lot more stamina than hares, so they will inevitably catch them, leading to the hares death. And unlike foxes, hares do not ‘go to ground’ they rely on there quick burst of speed to escape, but will eventually be worn down and caught by the hounds and their accompanying hunt.
When Does Hare Hunting / Coursing Take Place?
Hare coursing and ‘beagling’ generally begins at the end of September after the harvest, and the season will end at the end of March. Hare hunting with harriers will usually take place between August and March.
What Can I Do To Prevent Illegal Hare Coursing Hunting?
- Hare coursing and hunting is illegal, report any hunts you believe are hunting or coursing hares illegally in your area or on your property to the Police wildlife crime line on 101
- Write to your mp about strengthening the hunting act to prevent illegal hunting
- Share your views on social media, get your friends involved and create a demand for something to be done about illegal hunting
- Join or support your local hunt saboteur group