Cost to rural community described as 'great'

POACHERS in north Hampshire kill for fun and seldom for the cooking pot.

That’s one of the messages the police want to get across in a campaign to encourage members of the public to give them information whenever they see poachers in action.

Sergeant Russ Hodges, CountryWatch Sergeant for northern Hampshire, said: “The cost to the rural community from acts of poaching is great, with crops, gates and fences being destroyed or damaged which has also lead to livestock escaping.

“Financially, it runs into tens of thousands of pounds each year, but the alarm caused in our rural communities and intimidation caused by the gangs of poachers is of further concern to the police.”

Sgt Hodges said Hampshire Police takes all reports of poaching seriously, and will actively seek to pursue a prosecution against those criminals who commit such acts.”

He added poachers are often violent criminals with guns and hunting dogs, and in most cases the public should not approach them.

However, anyone who sees poaching should take a note of the location, time, date, description and registration numbers of vehicles being used.

The information should be passed to the police on 101, or to the Crimestoppers hotline on 0800 555111.

Poachers often pursue animals such as rabbits and species that fall under the heading of 'game' and deer. Under the Game Act 1831, game refers to hares, pheasants, partridges, grouse, heath or moor game and black game. Under the Night Poaching Act 1828, it includes the above and bustards.

Specific provisions relate to the poaching of deer, fish and game, but poaching can now be catered for under the Hunting Act legislation.

Crossbows are not classed as firearms but it is unlawful to kill any bird or animal with a bow or crossbow under section 5 and 11 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

It is also an offence under the Firearms Act 1968 to enter or be on any land or building as a trespasser while in possession of a firearm without reasonable excuse, or without lawful authority or reasonable excuse to have a loaded shotgun or loaded air weapon, or any other firearm loaded or not, together with suitable ammunition, in a public place.

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