“Something needs to happen, or someone will get seriously hurt,” Mr Coles said.
Often it will only be one car, but with five men and four dogs inside. Farmers and gamekeepers carry out patrols and are doing “a lot of the leg work” for the police.
“When you report it, you often don’t see a police officer till the next day, which isn’t much good if you have had a vehicle try to ram you and your windscreen is smashed,” Mr Coles added.
“When officers do turn up, they are in a Panda, and they can’t pursue a 4×4 across fields. Last year, we had it where they turned up, but they couldn’t pursue them because they hadn’t done their pursuit training.
“We desperately need a change in the law, but you also need those boots on the ground if we are going to stop this.”
The patrols also leave the farmers at risk of attack or prosecution if they use their firearms to defend themselves, he pointed out.
Ramming a vehicle would carry a more significant criminal penalty, but often the victims are unwilling to go to court for fear of reprisals.
“If you go to court and point the finger, then you can pretty much guarantee that three months later or six months later, your farm has been burnt down or your tractor set alight,” Mr Coles said.
‘Talk must give way to action’
The Countryside Alliance are among those calling on the Government to accept an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament. The amendment, which is said to have cross party support, is set to be tabled in the House of Lords.
Tim Bonner, the chief executive of the Countryside Alliance, said: “Rural communities have been waiting far too long for the Government to get serious about tackling hare poaching.
“It is time for talk to give way to action. Given the level of support for tougher measures, and the concern across the countryside about the activity of hare poachers, we fully expect these proposals to be revisited in the House of Lords. There can be no more excuse for delay.”
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said on Saturday night that they are “committed” to cracking down on the issue, including toughening the law when “time allows”.
A spokesman said: “We are clear that those found guilty of hare coursing activities should be subject to the full force of the law.
“Our Action Plan for Animal Welfare sets out our intention to crack down on illegal hare coursing and provide law enforcement with more tools to tackle the issue effectively – including through legislation when Parliamentary time allows. The Government remains committed to doing this.”