NORTH Yorkshire Police have been called out to deal with four incidents of suspected poaching in just two days.

The calls follow the launch of a high-impact campaign urging residents in rural areas to report all such incidents to the police.

In the early hours of yesterday (Tuesday), a farmer challenged a group of men with dogs in a Vauxhall Zafira, suspected of poaching on land near South Otterington, Northallerton. The suspects made off, following a thorough search of the area by police.

In the early hours of this morning, (Wednesday), officers attended land at Danby, near Whitby. Although suspected poachers had left the area, details of a vehicle involved were obtained from a witness.

Police yesterday also responded to calls in response to suspected poachers at West Heslerton, near Malton, late on Tuesday night, and at Scawton, near Helmsley, in the early hours of Wednesday.

Last week North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce launched a campaign urging members of the public to report any suspicious activity in rural areas that could be linked to poaching, such as unusual vehicle movements or lights in darkness.

They are asked to call North Yorkshire Police on 101 if it isn’t urgent – or 999 in an emergency or if a crime is in progress. This includes if poaching is taking place – it is a crime, and should be reported as such.

Under Operation Figaro, North Yorkshire Police will be robustly and proactively targeting poachers to put a stop to their illegal activity. The work runs alongside Operation Galileo, a national campaign bringing together forces particularly affected by poaching.

Inspector Matt Hagen, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said officers understood the terrible impact of poaching on rural communities. He said: “Poachers often have no regard for farmers and landowners, causing thousands of pounds of damage to crops. Victims are often intimidated or even threatened with violence if they challenge offenders, leaving them feeling vulnerable to further crimes, particularly in isolated areas.”

On average, police are called to more than 50 incidents of suspected poaching in North Yorkshire every month. Incidents tend to increase significantly from August onwards, during and after harvest time.

Anyone caught poaching will be summonsed to court, while those stopped in suspicious circumstances will be issued with a community protection warning or a community protection notice – breaches of which will be prosecuted.