The number of reports of illegal hunting made to police have increased by almost 45 per cent.

Between April 2018 and March 2019 Dorset Police received 36 reports of illegal hunting, a 44 per cent increase on the previous year when police received 25 reports.

Police have stressed they will investigate illegal hunting, and will prosecute if there is evidence.

They say incidents must be reported in the correct way, and not via posts on social media.

The Hunting Act, introduced in 2004, brought about a total ban on hunting wild mammals with dogs, outlawing fox-hunting, deer-hunting and hare-coursing with dogs.

You can be fined or jailed for hunting illegally or causing unnecessary suffering to an animal.

Hunting does still take place but using trained hounds who follow an artificial scent as opposed to an animal.

A spokesman for Dorset Police Rural Crime Team said: “Dorset Police will investigate any allegations of illegal hunting and wildlife crimes and will prosecute where there is sufficient evidence of an offence under the Hunting Act.

“We don’t avoid the issue of illegal hunting; if you suspect illegal hunting please contact Dorset Police and these allegations will be investigated by trained wildlife crime officers, who are specially trained to investigate this type of crime.

“Any incident needs to be reported to police by those witnessing incidents in order for their evidence to be produced as exhibits, such as photos or videos.

“We cannot do this via posts on social media. It has to be done properly.

“By posting live cases on social media it could jeopardise future proceedings. Anyone commenting about a case or defendant in a way that could prejudice a trial may lead to the entire case being dismissed. We cannot discuss details of any ongoing cases.”

If you would like to find out more information about the Hunting Act 2004 and what constitutes illegal hunting, visit

You can report illegal hunting to Dorset Police using the following options:

• If a wildlife crime is in progress call 999

• If urgent (evidence at scene or offenders still present) call 101

• If it’s a general report email or visit our website

Alternatively, if you wish to remain anonymous contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or via