A TRIO of men have been fined after a hare coursing incident in Bishops Cannings, near Devizes.

Stanley Mosley, 23, and James Mosley, 26, both of Woking, Surrey, and Mark Mosley, 27, of Lightwater, Surrey, were found guilty at Swindon Magistrates’ Court on April 6 of this year.

Police had been called to Bishops Cannings back on September 29, 2019 after receiving reports of suspicious activity on private farmland near the village.

The landowner and their farm staff had detained the three men ahead of the arrival of police officers.

The three men were arrested and interviewed before being summoned to court, where they failed to appear and were found guilty in their absence.

Each of the men received a fine of £660, were ordered to pay costs of £500 each and £66 each to victim services.

PC Marc Jackson, of Wiltshire Police, said: “The rural crime team and I are grateful for the response of the landowner and their staff. Landowners and farmers play an essential role in making us aware that illegal activity is taking place.

“I’d urge anyone who sees anything out of place in our rural communities to try and make note of any vehicle registration numbers and report concerns to us immediately.

“Our message is clear, if we suspect anyone of poaching offences in Wiltshire, we will act swiftly.”

If you have any information in relation to rural crime, please call Wiltshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

What is hare coursing?

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Hounds close in on their victim during a hare coursing meet. Picture by League Against Cruel Sports

Hare coursing is a bloodsport where dogs are used to chase, catch and kill hares.

It is illegal in the UK under the Hunting Act 2004, which makes it an offence to hunt wild mammals with dogs. Anyone convicted of the offence can receive a fine of up to £5,000 by a Magistrates’ Court.

Legislation also gives police the powers to seize and detain vehicles until the court hearing. Powers to seize vehicles may also be granted under section 30 of the Game Act 1831.

Hare coursing tends to start after harvest when large areas of land have been cleared of standing crops. It usually occurs at dawn or dusk.

Wiltshire's rural landscape makes it a popular area for hare coursing. It often attracts coursers from outside of the county.