A FARMER in Broad Hinton is furious after 'mindless vandals' illegally carried out hare coursing on his land, drove across newly sown crops and felled several iconic beech trees. 

James Hussey, of Weir Farm, is calling on police to enforce higher fines and do more to deter hare coursing after more than a dozen hares were slaughtered by dogs and left lying in the Marlborough Downs overnight on November 12-13.

The vandals cut down several iconic beech clumps, enraging the 59-year-old and the local community.

"I cannot comprehend why people commit such disgusting acts of vandalism and murder. The criminal damage is really annoying but the wildlife damage is so galling and wrong" said Mr Hussey, who has been farming the land for 40 years.

"The police have been round but they do not have the manpower or resources to clamp down on this and it is a very difficult crime to stop.

"We have spent so much time over the past 10 years on farm stewardship and improvements and have cared for the trees for 25 years but this is becoming more and more common. It is just savage. 

"There is a thriving population of grey hares on the land and they are beautiful to see but they are getting decimated. This was done for sport and something has to be done."

A post about the incident on the Marlborough Downs: A Space for Nature Facebook page, a nature conservation project made up of dozens of local farmers, reached more than 13,000 people.

"To have that kind of a reaction is very positive and hopefully this can raise awareness of these awful acts," added Mr Hussey.

Gemma Batten, an environmental consultant who runs the Facebook page, said that the group is contacting Wiltshire Police's rural crime team and is calling for people to report suspicious activity.

"Please don't stand by and let these criminals and their illegal activities damage the wildlife and landscape that we are working so hard to look after for everyone to enjoy," she said.

"People feel very strongly about something as despicable as this. Gambling goes on there too which is just cruel. They are wreaking havoc and it needs to be stopped."