Members of the public are being urged to be vigilant after hare coursers were spotted in Rutland at the weekend.
The illegal activity sees dogs such as greyhounds, lurchers or salukis chase and kill hares while owners place large bets on the outcome.
The hare coursing ‘season’ begins in early September – when crops have been harvested from fields – and usually continues until March.
Officers from Leicestershire Police were sent to Preston, Rutland, on Saturday following reports that coursers were in the area.
A search was carried out, but no arrests were made.
Hare coursing has been banned for more than a decade, but has continued to be a big problem in Lincolnshire and Norfolk.
It is thought that high-profile police crackdowns in those areas may have forced criminals intent on continuing hare coursing to do so in other areas – including Rutland.
Simon Fisher, county adviser for the National Farmers’ Union in Rutland, said hare coursers often threaten and intimidate farmers.
He said: “It’s often the case that those who participate in hare coursing are from the big conurbations such as Birmingham, Sheffield and Manchester.
“Historically, they have travelled to Lincolnshire and Norfolk to do so – where the fields are huge and as flat as a pancake – but high profile police campaigns may have led to them looking elsewhere.
“It’s possible they may have been opportunistic and stopped in Rutland on their way home along the A47.
“They are not desirable people. Farmers are often intimidated and threatened if they challenge those who set foot on their land.
“Large sums of money change hands between coursers .”
Mr Fisher said he had also heard reports of hare coursing in Ketton and South Luffenham this year.
He said the NFU’s advice to farmers who spot hare coursers on their land is to call police immediately.
Leicestershire Police said they received a call from a member of the public at 2.50pm on Saturday stating that seven people were hare coursing in a field.
By the time officers arrived, the group had left.
Anyone with any information about the incident should call police on 101.