DOGS used by poachers have been seized by Hampshire police for the first time ever.

Countrywatch officers have warned poachers to stay away from the county after also handing out hefty fines to the offenders.

Lee Cooper, 31, of Lebanon Road, Southampton, and Walter Smith, 25, of Ringwood Road, Totton, admitted to trespassing at night with the intention of taking game at Quarley, near Andover.

The pair were fined £825 and £620 respectively at Aldershot Magistrates' Court, and two dogs used in the offences were ordered to be seized and re-homed by police.

Meanwhile Morris Cole, 46, of Fallowfield, Yateley, was fined £165 at Basingstoke Magistrates' Court after pleading guilty to daytime poaching in Whitchurch, while two of his three dogs were also seized.

Chief Inspector Simon Dodds, strategic lead for rural policing, said: “These fines and forfeitures are an excellent result for these types of offences and provide a significant punishment and deterrent to these offenders.

“By taking robust action we can prevent further offences being committed and give a strong message to those that commit these offences. If we catch you, your dogs and vehicles will be forfeited.

“This zero tolerance approach will continue to be our response to this type of crime to support rural communities and make Hampshire a hostile place for criminals.”