Three Aberdeenshire men have been sentenced after admitting using dogs to hunt wild hares.
Peter Anderson, Philip Starr and Phillip Wilson, all from Macduff, had previously pled guilty to wildlife offences at Forfar Sheriff Court.
The court heard that on the afternoon of Sunday 2 February 2020 a local spotted people with lurcher type dogs on farmland near Balrownie, Brechin.
The farmer owners were informed and went to see for themselves. They discovered a silver ford car and noted the registration number.
Shortly after they saw men and dogs in one of the fields. Two lurcher type dogs were chasing after a hare. It appeared that one of the men was filming on a mobile phone.
The farmers phoned the police and when the silver car left the farm followed at a distance and passed the details of the car’s movements to the police by phone.
Police stopped the car on the A92 Stonehaven road and arrested the men on suspicion of hare coursing.
The vehicle was searched and the dogs, dog leads and a mobile phone within the rear of the vehicle were all seized.
The mobile phone, which belongs to Starr, was sent for analysis. It was found to contain a Whatsapp group with voice messages arranging to meet up to go hare coursing. There was also a video taken by Starr on 2 February which showed one of the dogs with a dead hare.
Speaking after the sentencing, Fiona Caldwell, Head of Wildlife and Environmental Crime Unit said:
"I welcome the sentence of these three men and the message it should send to anyone involved in hare coursing.
"Hare coursing is a cruel and wholly illegal act.
"The Crown will continue to work to ensure that anyone who hunts hares with dogs is brought to justice.
"We would encourage anyone who may have information on hare coursing to contact the police."
Anderson, Starr and Wilson each pled guilty two charges under Section 1(1) of the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 and Section 10A of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 at Forfar Sheriff Court on 30 November 2021.
On 6 January they were made subject of a Community Payback Order requiring each to carry out 190 hours of unpaid work and banned from having custody of dogs for two years. Wilson was also placed under supervsion for a 12 month period.