New Forest Dog On The Forest Off The Lead

Help stamp out hare coursing

Hare coursing is illegal

The hare coursing season has started, please be on the lookout in your community or areas where you may walk. Hampshire Police and others are asking dog walkers to report anything suspicious - hare coursing is illegal. 

What is hare coursing?

Hare coursing sets two running dogs onto a brown hare. The dogs compete and are judged by how closely they can follow the twists and turns of the hare as it tries to escape, and if they ultimately catch and kill it. The dogs are competing and gambling is often involved.

Hare coursing is a blood sport and has been illegal since 2004.  In January 2022, the Government set out tougher measures to police and sentence criminals continuing to practise the sport. The punishments now include unlimited fines and the possibility of imprisonment.  New legislation to crack down on illegal hare coursing came into effect at the start of August (2022). 

The illegal nature of hare coursing and its associated gambling often leads to the participation of people who are undertaking other forms of criminal activity, such as drugs and firearms offences, which is why they pose such a threat to farmers and others in the rural communities.  

What kind of dogs are used?

Sighthounds (also known as longdogs) and their crosses: greyhounds, salukis, slughi, borzoi, Afghan hounds, whippets – all are fast, agile, and hunt by sight. Many are badly treated once their coursing days are over and many end up in animal rescue sanctuaries.

Where does hare coursing take place?

Coursing requires big, open spaces so agricultural areas in and around Hampshire and the IOW.

The impact on our farmers

Coursing can be hugely stressful for farmers and land owners as well as their families, this activity can cause huge damage to crops, fences and gates running into £1000’s.


Brown hares are widespread across the UK but numbers are declining. Their population is estimated at less than half a million in England and they are listed as a priority in the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan. An iconic sight in the British countryside, the brown hare is known for its long, black-tipped ears and fast running – it can reach speeds of 45mph – and is most commonly found on arable land and open grassland. They face a range of threats, including poaching and habitat loss.

What to do if you spot potential Hare Coursing

It is advised you do not approach those taking part, and instead call the police on 999 immediately.  If possible tell the 999 operator, the exact location potentially using what3words app | Find, share and navigate to precise locations | what3words, any vehicle registrations/make and models, description of dogs and any suspects.  

If safe to do and at no risk to yourself and you can discreetly, take and record any pictures or video, along with passing to police for evidence any CCTV or dash cam footage of the activity taking place.  This would greatly support any investigations and aid any prosecutions in court.  

Alternatively report any intelligence and non-urgent matters via 101, Report a crime | Hampshire Constabulary contact Crimestoppers to give information anonymously - Crimestoppers' online form or call them on 0800 555 1111.