POLICE successfully hunted down a number of poachers during the Christmas holiday.

The most dramatic incident happened on Christmas Eve when Sgt Daniel Spence spotted a 4x4 Isuzu Trooper while on patrol in the Broughton Rise area of Malton. When the occupants saw the police they made off over three fields in their vehicle.

Sgt Spence, who led the hunt, said the vehicle became stuck when it crashed through a fence.

Ten officers were called in, including a dog handler from York and back up officers from Scarborough, to track down the occupants who were believed to have been hunting pheasants, rabbits and deer.

Sgt Spence said: “It was unusual for people out lamping and poaching to go to such lengths to avoid the police.

One man from the Barnsley area was caught and is now on police bail to attend Scarborough police headquarters at the end of January. However another man made his escape, said Sgt Spence. “We believe there were at least two people in the Trooper,” he added.

* Four men from the Cleveland area were arrested after being caught poaching between Hovingham and Cawton on Sunday morning.

Sgt Spence said there had been reports of the men working with lurcher dogs, hunting for game. He added that nearly all poaching incidents in Ryedale involved people from the South and West Yorkshire and the Cleveland area.

In another incident, poachers were reported operating between Norton and North Grimston using a grey 4x4 vehicle.

Police also received reports of badger baiting at Whitwell-on-the-Hill.