Three men were sent home with Covid-19 fixed penalty notices after being stopped by police poaching patrols.
Police were called to a report that a blue Subaru Impreza was involved in poaching activity in the rural area around the town on Sunday at about 10am.
Police officers attended immediately, and – thanks to information provided by the caller – were able to locate and stop a car a short time later, in Catterick Garrison.
Inside were three men and a number of lurcher dogs.
The men told police they had come from County Durham to North Yorkshire to buy a dog at a service station.
All three were reported for breaching Covid-19 regulations, and issued with a dispersal order requiring them to leave the Hambleton and Richmondshire areas immediately.
Officers followed them to the border to ensure they did so.
Police say about 80 per cent of poaching incidents in North Yorkshire take place between September and February.
Police patrol key routes so officers can respond swiftly to any reports, with networks of Rural Watch volunteers able to call in suspicious activity in real time.
Even if poachers are not stopped at the time, they can expect to receive formal community protection notices – breaches of which will be prosecuted.
Insp Matt Hagen, from North Yorkshire Police’s Rural Taskforce, said: “Far from being a victimless crime, poachers cause misery and fear in rural communities.
“They have no regard for farmers, and their disgraceful actions damage valuable crops as well as wildlife. In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, this criminality is even more unacceptable.”
Residents are encouraged to note down and report any suspicious activity, such as unusual vehicle movements, particularly in remote or isolated areas.
“Even if the information doesn’t need an immediate response, every piece of intelligence helps the police build up a picture and could prove vital in bring criminals to justice.
Call North Yorkshire Police on 101 if it’s not urgent – or 999 in an emergency or if a crime is in progress.
This includes if you witness poaching taking place – this is a crime, and should be reported as such.