NUMEROUS reports of poaching are being investigated by Stokesley police.

The incidents cover a large area from Seamer, Hutton Rudby and Swainby, to Kildale and Raisdale.

A series of suspected poaching incidents have been reported to officers at Stokesley police station, and Seamer Parish Council recently discussed the problems with an officer.

Several farmers said there has been an increase in the number of men and youths seen with lurchers on hare-coursing activities in the district.

On one occasion, a gang of ten men from the Darlington area had appeared at Seamer on a Sunday afternoon with a dog, the parish council had heard.

This week Sgt Martin McLachlin, of Stokesley police, gave details of other reported incidents to the D&S Times.

The first was reported last November, when people were seen walking at Trenholme Bar, west of Hutton Rudby.

Later that month, another two people were seen with lamps and dogs. They were observed moving towards Parsons Back Lane at Trenholme Bar.

No detailed descriptions were available.

Again in November, two men with three dogs were spotted walking down Black Horse Lane, between Hutton Rudby and Swainby. It was believed they were poachers.

In December, two men and four dogs seen on land at Sexhow, between Hutton Rudby and Carlton, and men were seen in a blue or grey Vauxhall Astra car.

Also that month, four or five people with dogs were seen at Carlton. They had a white van and were stopped and checked by the police.

This month, five people and two dogs were seen at Seamer.

Days later, three men and dogs were observed at Raisdale, with a red Ford Escort.

At Kildale, two men were seen with lamps on land, with a white Vauxhall Astra. They were dealt with by the police.

Sgt McLachlin said: "It is always worthwhile checking such incidents out. Poaching is an offence, in its various forms, and can sometimes be used as a convenient cover for other activity."

Guisborough police last year said poaching in the Cleveland Hills and Guisborough Forest was a significant problem. Poaching was illegal and a danger to the public, it was emphasised.

Cleveland police suspected poachers had a considerable customer-base on the black market.