Queen’s gamekeeper is injured after being pelted with stones by illegal hare coursers

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A Royal gamekeeper was pelted with stones after attempting to stop illegal hare coursing on the Queen’s estate.

He confronted three men who were hunting hares with dogs, which rip their prey apart.

Bets of thousands of pounds can be placed on the results. The gamekeeper was left with a bruised chest in the assault at Flitcham, Norfolk.

Cruel:  A ¿sighthound¿ ¿ which hunts by sight rather than scent ¿ is pictured above chasing a hare [File photo]

Cruel:  A ‘sighthound’ – which hunts by sight rather than scent – is pictured above chasing a hare [File photo]

The attack occurred on a newly harvested field, part of the 20,000-acre Sandringham estate, near the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s country home, Anmer Hall.

It is also close to the Queen’s Norfolk home where she and Prince Philip are spending a couple of weeks after leaving Balmoral.

Norfolk Police said the gamekeeper dialled 999 on September 3 and three men were arrested. Even though hare coursing was outlawed in 2004, it still takes place illicitly.

It is most common between September and March when fields are bare of crops, enabling dogs that hunt by sight to see their prey.

Competitors bet on dogs, with each turn they make to trap the hare earning points, plus a higher score for the one that gets the ‘kill’.

PC Jon Chandler, of Norfolk Police, said hare coursers were often threatening, adding: ‘The gamekeeper stated he had seen hare coursing. When he engaged with the people, they threw stones at him and caused him some minor injuries. It is a cruel sport.’

He said 300 incidents of hare coursing were reported in Norfolk and Suffolk every year, 600 in Cambridgeshire and 1,000 in Lincolnshire, adding: ‘Many other incidents are not reported.’

The attack occurred on a newly harvested field, part of the 20,000-acre Sandringham estate, near the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge¿s country home, Anmer Hall (pictured above)

The attack occurred on a newly harvested field, part of the 20,000-acre Sandringham estate, near the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s country home, Anmer Hall (pictured above)

The unnamed gamekeeper told police his attackers fled in a green Subaru. Officers tried to pull over a car matching the description, but it failed to stop.

A green Subaru was found abandoned nearby and three men in their 30s were arrested on suspicion of assault, hunting mammals with dogs and driving offences.

The car and four lurcher-type dogs were also seized by officers.

The men, who were all from the area of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, were released on police bail until September 29.

They were arrested as part of a joint campaign against hare coursing by police forces, mostly in East Anglia, called Operation Galileo.

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