Skip to main content

Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-13684: Michelle Ballantyne (South Scotland)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 8 January 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to tackle incidents of hare coursing in (a) the Scottish Borders and (b) East Lothian.

Answered by: Roseanna Cunningham 18 January 2018

Through the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) Scotland, the Scottish Government works closely with law enforcement bodies, land managers and conservation groups to raise awareness of hare coursing, encourage incident reporting and improve detection and prosecution.

Police Scotland’s Lothians and Scottish Borders Division has a dedicated full-time wildlife crime liaison officer and there have been several well publicised, successful, prosecutions for hare coursing in the region in recent years. The penalties handed to those convicted included fines, community payback orders and orders banning them from keeping dogs in Scotland.

The Scottish Government’s Wildlife DNA Forensics Unit at Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) analyses DNA recovered from animal victims and also from dogs belonging to the perpetrators of wildlife crime. The unit’s work has played a key role in progressing several hare coursing cases towards successful prosecution, including a 2012 case in the Lothian and Borders region.

Police Scotland is undertaking analytical work in 2018 in conjunction with the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit to assist in targeting the individuals and vehicles involved in this type of crime. Several arrests have already been made in East Lothian and the Scottish Borders in January 2018, in connection with suspected hare coursing.