Police officers in Moray have made three arrests after they moved on an alleged hare coursing event near Urquhart.
The three men aged 63, 39 and 18 have been reported to the procurator fiscal and are expected to appear at Elgin Sheriff Court.
Hare coursing has been targeted as part of ‘operation Lepus’, a campaign launched by police and Aberdeenshire and Moray in September 2012 aimed at clamping down on the illegal ‘sport’.
Dogs are used in hare coursing to hunt brown hares – with bets being taken on which dog is first to reach the prey. The once common practice was banned in Scotland in 2002.
The arrests followed an incident last Friday at Binn Hill car park on the Garmouth road near Urquhart. Constable Stuart Dick said: “Operation Lepus is dedicated to combating hare coursing.
“I want to encourage members of the public to contact the police should they witness any suspicious behaviour which they think might be related to the practice.”
When operation Lepus was launched Sergeant Andrew Mavin, who is the wildlife co-ordinator for Police Scotland, said that they force was determined to clamp down on the ‘barbaric’ practice.
He said: “We’re aiming to raise awareness about the issue of hare coursing across Scotland.
“We have dedicated wildlife crime officers across Scotland who work closely with landowners and farmers, and liaise with organisations such as the farmers union and the Scottish Land and Estates.
“Hare coursing is barbaric and the mindset of those who partake in such crime is beyond comprehension.”