POACHERS have been issued a warning by police after they secured their first prosecutions under the Hunting Act.

Two Burnley men were fined for poaching activity in Longridge and Altham.

Nicholas Green, 23, of Reynolds Street, Burnley, was fined £400 by Preston magistrates when he pleaded guilty to hunting a wild animal with a dog.

He was caught after officers attended a report of a suspicious vehicle on the outskirts of Longridge and discovered a man leaving nearby farmland with lamps and two lurcher dogs.

Jeffrey Johnson, 34 of Forfar Street, Burnley, was fined £535 after being found guilty of hunting with dogs on the grounds of the former Altham Power Station.

PC Carl Chew, Ribble Valley wildlife officer, said: “We take a tough stance on rural crime and work very closely with agencies including the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, the Environment Agency, gamekeepers, land owners and farmers.

"We all work tirelessly to protect Lancashire’s wildlife and I urge the farming community to continue to work with us to tackle the issue.”

Meanwhile police have carried out anti-poaching operations in Padiham and Barrowford and officers have visited butchers, restaurants and game dealers to check poached meat is not being sold.

Mark Thomas, wildlife crime officer at Lancashire Police, said: “We reg-ularly work with our neighbouring forces in Merseyside and Cumbria to prevent criminals travelling across borders to commit crime in rural areas. We also use text schemes, such as FarmWatch, in more remote areas.”