Police investigating reports of illegal poaching offences in the Ovington area have arrested three men in connection with the incident.

It comes after they received reports of two vehicles driving off-road on private land near Ovington in Alresford just before 9pm on January 8.

Allegedly, the vehicles were also seen to be shining lamps into the fields and members of the public could hear animals in distress.

Police were deployed to the scene and conducted an area search.

Officers located muddy vehicle tracks and a vehicle in the distance on Fair Lane in Easton – which after a short pursuit a Fiat 4x4 vehicle was stopped by officers in a local garage forecourt.

However, another vehicle made off from officers into the Winnall industrial estate, but the occupants had decamped and fled the scene with a dog.

Three men were detained and a search of them, and the vehicle they were in, was conducted under Section 2 Poaching Prevention Act. A number of items – including catapults, ball bearings, a large lamp, a lock knife and a quantity of Class B drugs – were located in the vehicle and seized.

While officers also discovered two deceased hares in the vehicle along with quantity of dried blood within the vehicle and upon clothing worn by one of the men.

Five lurcher-type dogs were also located and seized, alongside the two vehicles, as a result.

A 27-year-old man from Lightwater, Surrey was arrested on suspicion of entering land as a trespasser at night with poaching equipment and possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.

While a 17-year-old boy from Ashford in Middlesex and a 19-year-old man from London were arrested on suspicion of entering land as a trespasser at night with poaching equipment.

All three have been released under investigation, pending further police enquiries.

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