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Twelve people have been arrested in the past week on suspicion of illegal hare coursing in Oxfordshire, police said today.

Yesterday five people were bailed by police after they were arrested near Nettlebed on Tuesday night.

Police also arrested three men and a boy in Longcot near Faringdon last Friday on suspicion of carrying out the illegal blood sport.

They have been bailed pending further enquiries and their vehicle was seized.

Two dogs were removed by the RSPCA.

Three men were also arrested on suspicion of hare coursing on Sunday in Blewbury.

Police launched Operation Migrate in South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse to target illegal hare coursing and the damage it causes to the countryside at the beginning of October.

Pc Steve Lynch, based at Wantage police station, said: “We are taking a robust approach and working hard to catch people who carry out hare coursing.

“It is not just the act of putting the dogs onto the hares that we are concerned with but also the total disregard that the hare coursers have for other peoples’ property.

“They cause criminal damage to crops, fences and buildings and in addition, those responsible are very often in breach of various traffic laws. The hare coursers in our area are also illegally using The Ridgeway.

“I would like to remind the public that if anyone is caught hare coursing they will be arrested and their vehicles and dogs will be seized. We will be working jointly with the RSPCA, actively patrolling areas and targeting those responsible.

“Operation Migrate will continue to run over the next few months and I urge anyone who sees any suspicious activity in the area, or has information to help us with our investigation, to contact us.”

Anyone with information on hare coursing should contact police on 08458 505505 or speak anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.