Detection rates for hare coursing in the north east of Scotland have hit an all-time high.
Almost 95% of the wildlife crime incidents in the region have been successfully pursued by officers this year.
So far in 2017, 54 incidents have been reported to police – down 21% on the same period last year.
Chief Inspector Murray Main said: “Hare coursing has now become the most prolific wildlife crime in the north east.
“It beggars belief that people could still consider this a sport – it causes significant suffering to the animal and the chase can last up to 90 minutes before the hare is finally mauled to death.
“The success we have had in detecting the overwhelming majority of these crimes should send a strong message to the public that behaviour of such a cruel nature will never be accepted or justified and that you will be held accountable for your actions.
“We have the power to arrest and charge offenders and seize the vehicles and dogs involved.”
Police in the north east launched Operation Black Falls to prevent the crime, educate the public and bring offenders to court.
A total of 14 people have been reported to the Procurator Fiscal and four vehicles have been seized.
November marks the resurgence of hare coursing season, when crops are harvested again.
It coincides with a rise in sheep attacks by dogs, during a period when farm animals are brought down to more accessible, low-lying pasture areas.
Chief Inspector Main added: “The worrying of sheep and other livestock by dogs not only has an obvious financial and emotional impact on farmers and their families when their animals are killed or injured, but also has an effect on the animals themselves, their productivity, welfare and the future of the farm.”