Police have appealed to people to keep a lookout for late night cars following reports of ‘lamping’ in South Tyneside.
The hunting method involves the use of strong spotlights to startle animals like rabbits and deer before shooting them or using dogs to chase them.
While landowners can give permission for the practice in rural areas, councillors in South Tyneside heard it might be happening on in the borough illegally.
Police say they have had a number of repoprts of suspicious activity late at night in fields near Cleadon, Whitburn and Marsden.
Sgt Neil Watkin, told West Shields, Cleadon and East Boldon Community Forum that these reports were from farmland areas.
He said: “We’re having a few reports mainly from the Whitburn area but have very little information about who is responsible.
“We’re hearing from farmers and landowners that fences are being damaged and getting reports of torches in fields in the middle of the night.”
He added: “We are asking for vigilance around the area and also if anybody is aware of any registration numbers. These people are obviously travelling in by vehicle.”
While police should be informed of lamping by landowners, Sgt Watkin said concerns remain about ‘illegal activity’ and traps being used.
In recent weeks, a dog was snared by an animal trap in Temple Memorial Park in South Shields – an incident reported to police and South Tyneside Council.
Coun Doreen Purvis raised concerns about the practice of ‘lamping’ in public places, describing it as an “absolute danger”.
Coun Joan Atkinson added: “We understand as councillors how much the police are being torn apart by making decisions about what’s a priority.
“People walking around with guns and knives are a priority. It’s a threatening thing.”
Sgt Watkin added that officers need information before they can act.
To report ‘lamping’ incidents or anything suspicious, call Northumbria Police on 101
Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service