A WEST Lothian man who was caught hare coursing has become the first in Scotland to be given an Asbo for the offence.
Keith Livingston was fined £300 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court for two counts of hare coursing under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
The 54-year-old, who appeared at court on Friday, was also given an Asbo preventing him from entering land with a dog or with others who have a dog in East Lothian and Midlothian for 18 months.
Livingston was arrested near Pathhead as part of a police crackdown on the “sport” a year ago.
He was also found to have been involved in an incident in East Lothian.
Fresh warnings about the offence – which involves dogs being set on hares – were issued after his arrest, amid concerns about a “year-round” trend in hare coursing, which has historically been a seasonal issue.
Pc Jamie Hood, wildlife liaison officer for the Lothians and Scottish Borders, said: “Hare coursing is a crime that has no consideration for wildlife or the impact on people who legitimately make a living from the land. People involved in this activity can also be involved in other criminal activity.
“This sentence should serve as a serious deterrent to anyone involved in hare coursing in Scotland.”
Robbie Marsland, director for League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, said: “The League welcomes the use of Asbos on people found guilty of inflicting cruelty and pain on any animal for entertainment. We would also welcome serious consideration of their future use when the legislation that currently attempts to ban fox hunting is reviewed by the Scottish Government over the next few months.”
Scottish SPCA chief superintendent Mike Flynn described hare coursing as an “abhorrent activity”. He said: “We are pleased this individual has been dealt with by the court for his involvement in this sickening so-called ‘blood-sport’.”
East Lothian MSP Iain Gray said he was “delighted” that police and the Crown Office were prosecuting hare coursers in an “imaginative” way.
Organised groups of hare coursers have been known to boast about their kills on social media.
Those involved are often linked to other crimes and have been known to be aggressive and abusive to farmers and gamekeepers.
Offenders have been known to place bets and attempt to sell meat to “unscrupulous” restaurants and butchers.
Anyone with information should contact police.