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A late-night tip off to police from members of the rural watch scheme led to a vehicle being seized and suspected poachers walking home.

Police were contacted at 11:15pm yesterday (Thursday) after volunteers suspected poaching on land at Arkendale near Knaresborough.

The Subaru Forester being used by the suspects, which was initially stuck in the mud, quickly made its way across farmers’ fields towards the road network.

North Yorkshire Police were able to catch up with the vehicle and apprehend the two male occupants.

The suspects, one in his twenties and one in his thirties, were inside the vehicle and officers noticed a large amount of blood.

Inspector Clive Turner, of North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said:

“Our officers, some of whom have farming backgrounds, know the terrible impact poaching can have on rural communities. Farmers and landowners are often intimidated or even threatened with violence if they challenge offenders, leaving them feeling vulnerable to further crimes, particularly in isolated areas.

“On average, we’re called to more than 50 incidents of suspected poaching in North Yorkshire every month. Incidents tend to increase significantly from August onwards, during and after harvest time. In addition to being a wildlife crime, poaching can cause extensive damage to crops, fields and fences. Poachers may also be involved in other offences – including the organised theft of quad bikes and farm machinery.

“We also have over 2,000 Rural Watch members across the county, connected to the police on WhatsApp groups. We’re one of the only forces in the country to connect to our rural communities in this way.  They are our eyes and ears within their communities, and the actionable Intelligence that comes from them is invaluable.”

The vehicle was seized and the occupants left to find their own way home. Enquiries are ongoing.

Read more local stories from Your Harrogate here.