TWO men have been arrested on suspicion of hare-coursing after they were caught with hunting dogs in a field in Lancashire.

The men, aged 24 and 62, were spotted at about 9am on Sunday and reported to police by someone who believed they were poachers.

The pair had three lurcher-type dogs with them, and police also found a dead hare in the field, off Burrows Lane, Hambleton, near Poulton-le-Flylde.

The 62-year-old, from Belmont, and the 24-year-old, from Bolton, were arrested on suspicion of handling dogs for the purpose of hare coursing and have been released on bail until November 11 pending further inquiries.

Both men have now been banned from entering Lancashire as part of their bail conditions and their dogs have been seized by police.

Hare coursing, which has been illegal in the UK since 2005 under the Hunting Act, involves the pursuit of hares by dogs for competition.

Lancashire Police wildlife officer, Mark Thomas, said: “It is important that residents living in rural areas remain vigilant and contact the police if they suspect people are hare coursing in their area.

“This kind of activity usually takes place during daylight and one of the signs for residents to look out for is people walking across land with ‘long’ dogs, such as lurchers, which are typically used in this cruel sport.

"Not only are they trespassing, but there is also the risk that they will commit other offences, such as criminal damage or theft, while they are there.”

Police in Lancashire launched a crackdown on rural crime on Monday.