Police in Inverness have reported three men to the procurator fiscal in connection with hare coursing in an area to the east of the city.
Hare coursing is the illegal pursuit of hares by dogs resulting in a barbaric, terrifying death for the animal.
The alleged incidents took place in recent weeks in the Ardersier area.
The force has thanked members of the public for their vigilance and assistance in providing information on incidents of hare coursing the Highlands.
Police Constable Dan Sutherland, divisional wildlife crime officer, said: “We’ve issued a number of appeals recently relating to crime in the rural environment and following contact from members of the public, police in Inverness have reported three individuals to the procurator fiscal for hare coursing in the Ardersier area.
“Police continue to urge anyone with information relating to wildlife crime or other rural crime to report all suspicious activity as soon as possible. Activities such as hare coursing is a significant rural crime which can involve the wider criminal network, having a detrimental impact on rural homeowners and businesses.”
“Information from the public is the lifeblood of such investigations and members of the community are once again thanked for their continued assistance.”
Hare coursing is a UK wildlife crime priority and an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is committed by a small number of individuals, who travel far and wide to indulge in this illegal activity.
Those involved will use lurchers, greyhounds and whippet dogs which hunt by sight and are normally walked across fields on slip leads and are released when any hares run off. It has been known for multiple dogs to chase one hare and money to change hands depending on which dog kills the hare.
The population of the hare declined rapidly in the 1960s and 1970s before stabilising in the 1980s and good populations are found on the arable farmlands throughout Scotland.
For more information on home and rural security visit the Police Scotland website.