Euan Anderson, Nicky Grant and Jordon Steel, all from South Lanarkshire, had previously pled guilty at Stirling Sheriff Court to wildlife offences.
The trio were ordered to pay a total of £5,025 and all three were banned from owning or keeping dogs for two years. Following a motion by the prosecutor, Grant was ordered to forfeit two dog trackers, three lamps, two leads and a slip wire. Anderson was ordered to forfeit the mobile phone he used to video the offences.
The procurator fiscal depute told the court that their offences were discovered when Anderson and Grant were spotted with two dark coloured lurchers in fields near Chalmerston Road in Stirling on 27 December 2021. The witness sent a message to the local WhatsApp chat.
After receiving the message, another witness jumped into her car and drove to Chalmerston Road. She saw a black Audi A3, later confirmed as Anderson’s car, parked next to Stirling Bridge in the layby on Chalmerston Road and took a picture.
Another witness filmed and took photos of them as they walked through a field holding a dead hare and saw Anderson’s black Audi parked close to the field.
The incident was reported to police who recovered the dead hare from a hedgerow. Further enquiries led to the execution of search warrants on 31 March 2022.
Items seized from Grant’s home address included mobile phones, clothing, lamps, dog trackers, slip wire, and dog leads.
The dogs seen in the photos and videos were found in the kennels in the back garden. Police took DNA from these dogs, Rocky and Pablo, and they were photographed.
A mobile phone, a deer hunter jumper and a hooded game jumper were seized from Anderson’s home.
The dead hare was taken to the Wildlife DNA forensics unit at the Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture unit (SASA) for DNA samples to be taken to compare to DNA samples taken from the two dogs. The dog DNA found on the hare was a profile match for Rocky.
The police analysis of Anderson’s phone found photographs and videos of hare coursing in the morning and afternoon of 27 December 2021. They also found photographs of hare coursing on 24 December showing another man who police were able to identify as Jordon Steel.
Speaking after the sentencing, Debbie Carroll, who leads on wildlife and environmental crime for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said:
"Hare coursing is a cruel and wholly illegal act and I welcome the conviction of these three men and the message it should send to anyone involved in this barbaric crime.
"This investigation and prosecution was the result of the actions of the local community and the excellent partnership working between Police Scotland, SASA and the Procurator Fiscal’s specialist prosecutors.
"As illustrated in this case, reporting such offending to the police can ensure that those, like Anderson, Grant and Steel, who hunt hares with dogs are held to account.”