POACHERS who visit Ryedale in the hope of easy pickings are to be targeted in a clampdown by police.

The Poacherwatch operation will see police step up activity throughout the Ryedale area and encourage extra vigilance from farmers and other land owners. Rural areas popular with poachers will see signs put up telling would-be offenders they are being watched and their vehicle details are likely to be recorded for follow-up action to be taken.

Recent police work in Ryedale saw four poachers from the North-East apprehended, their vehicle seized and all being prosecuted.

The initiative has been sparked by a recent increase in poaching activity, especially in the Malton area.

Supported by Safer Ryedale, the local crime and disorder reduction partnership, the campaign will send out a powerful message to the travelling criminal that Ryedale is an area where their unlawful activities will not be tolerated.

PC Terry Triffit said: “It isn’t just the wild animals that these people are after, anything else they can get their hands on will be eagerly accepted so the more we can do to deter this type of person from visiting Ryedale, the better it will be for everybody.” Adding his full support to the initiative, Inspector Tim Hutchinson, in charge of Ryedale’s Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “Ryedale is a place where the more eyes and ears we have out in the rural areas has a great effect on our ability to make life hard for these poachers.

“Poaching, although a crime in itself, can just be a front for other rural crime such as burglary or theft. This is a problem that affects us all so we all need to play a part. That is why Poacherwatch is such a good idea.”

The new signs will be put up this week and anyone with information or sightings is urged to ring North Yorkshire Police on 0845 6060247.

PC Triffit said: “Don’t just think of these people coming out on a night-time. They regularly turn up on a Sunday morning and pursue their illegal past-time of hare coursing.”