Two men sentenced for hare coursing

Two Aberdeenshire men have been sentenced after admitting using dogs to hunt wild hares.

Steven McDonald, 38, from Inverurie, and Richard Hanratty, 29, from Bridge of Don, had previously pled guilty to wildlife offences at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

McDonald was given a four-month restriction of liberty order and placed under supervision. He was also ordered to carry out a total of 200 hours of unpaid work and banned from keeping dogs for eight years.

Hanratty was ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work and banned from keeping dogs for three years.

The court granted the prosecutors motion for the forfeiture of dog collars from both men.

The prosecutor told the court that on 21 August 2019 McDonald had allowed dogs to kill a brown hare in Mosstown Field in Udny, Aberdeenshire. A witness saw two dogs chase down and kill a hare.

The hare’s body was recovered from the field by police and the gamekeeper shortly after McDonald was arrested leaving the area.

In later incidents McDonald, in a distinctive blue jacket, was filmed hare coursing at Ardconnon Farm, Oldmeldrum on 11 February 2020. Hanratty was also captured hare coursing at Milton-croft, Dumbreck on 16 February 2021.

Speaking after the sentencing, Fiona Caldwell, who leads on wildlife and environmental crime for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said:

"I welcome the conviction and sentence of Steven McDonald and Richard Hanratty 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."