Court bans hare coursing offenders from keeping dogs for 11 years

Aberdeen Sheriff Court has banned two men from keeping dogs for a total of 11 years. It comes after video footage caught the pair hare coursing.

According to AberdeenLive, a witness filmed Steven McDonald and Richard Hanratty using lurchers to course a hare in Mosstown Field, Udny, in August 2019. The witness also saw two dogs killing a hare. Police and a gamekeeper recovered the body of the hare, while McDonald was arrested leaving the scene.

However, the incident didn’t stop the pair. Another witness filmed McDonald hare coursing at Ardconnon Farm, Oldmeldrum, on 11 February 2020. Meanwhile, someone caught Hanratty coursing at Milton-croft, Dumbreck, on 16 February 2021.

Both McDonald and Hanratty had previously plead guilty to the incidents. As a result, on 25 April, Aberdeenshire Sheriff Court gave McDonald a four-month restriction of liberty order, which means he will be under curfew for the duration. The court also banned him from keeping dogs for eight years and committed him to 200 hours of unpaid work. Meanwhile, it barred Hanratty from keeping dogs for three years and handed him 100 hours of unpaid work.

The court also granted the prosecution’s request for both men to forfeit dog collars.

Hare coursing is a real problem

As this case shows, hare coursing is an addictive pastime. And even Scotland’s fairly severe legal repercussions don’t act as a deterrent. Unlike hunting and shooting, however, the informality of hare coursing makes it difficult to tackle with direct action.

New measures in England and Wales brought the law up to parity with those north of the border. And we’re starting to see the first cases prosecuted under those powers coming through. However, if Scotland is anything to go by, they’re unlikely to have the sort of impact that we, as people that care about wildlife, want.

If you suspect hare coursing is taking place, please get photos or videos of the incident and ring 999.