A crackdown has been launched to trap poachers who use high powered lamps to flush out rabbits and hares for their dogs to hunt.

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick CB QC and his deputy, Julian Sandham, heard about the campaign during a visit to the Bodorgan Estate on Anglesey.

They met estate manager Tim Bowie and game keepers Hugh Farrar and Dan Crimp to hear for themselves how rural crime is being tackled.

Police Community Support Officer Dennis Owen, who works with the pioneering North Wales Police Rural Crime Team, is one of the officers on the trail of the poachers.

Dennis Owen said: “The poachers use a technique called lamping where they fix lights to the top of their cars and vans and then drive down unclassified roads shining their lights into fields and open land to show their dogs where rabbits and hares are.

“It has been a big problem on Anglesey for many years and for some families it’s a tradition, it’s what they do. However, not only is it poaching there’s a serious issue of dogs worrying livestock.”

He added: “These poachers have no respect for fencing or the fact hares are a protected species. It’s been a big problem but an issue we are tackling.

“I have been working closely with the National Farmers Union, local farmers and landowners to gather intelligence on those responsible. We know we have poachers from Anglesey, Bangor, Caernarfon and even as far afield as the Wirral lamping on Anglesey.

“We are collating vehicle details and I then visiting these people at their homes. They may deny what they have been doing but at least they know we know. And we are seeing a reduction.

“The other big issue is the worrying of livestock. Poachers who carry out lamping use their lights to show their dogs where the rabbits, hares and even foxes are. But the dogs are then running among sheep and cattle and we have seen animals suffer injuries in the past. It’s an issue we won’t tolerate.”

Mr Roddick told Bodorgan Estate manager, Tim Bowie and gamekeepers, Hugh Farrar and Dan Crimp, he was delighted to hear that lamping, and rural crime in general, was being tackled on Anglesey.

He said: “In 2011, prior to my election to the role of Police and Crime Commissioner, I visited livestock markets and spoke to farmers and members of the farming union.

“The message I received was that rural areas were simply not being adequately policed. It’s my view the rural community gives a huge amount to the economy of Wales and deserves to be treated in exactly the same way as urban communities.

He added: “I’m delighted to say the rural team we now have in place is a model, not only for the rest of Wales but the wider world. I know that’s true as we have just been visited by an Australian team and you don’t get more rural than vast swathes of Australia.”

Estate manager Tim Bowie agreed rural policing had improved dramatically in recent years.

He said: “We did have numerous problems and kept a log from 2010 of petty crimes committed on the estate. While many crimes were relatively minor such as fly-tipping, which remains an issue, some, such as poaching and the theft of farm equipment, was more serious.

“People think fly-tipping is easily cleared away but recently we had a load of waste dumped on the estate. The problem being that waste contained asbestos sheets and so needed to be cleared up by a specialist team. That expense has to be borne by the estate I’m afraid.

“However, we now have a good working relationship with the police particularly with PCSO Dennis Owen who is definitely having a positive impact on rural crime in general.”

He added: “We do understand police resources are stretched and we can’t always expect an immediate response but the initiative that saw a PCSO allocated to rural areas has been a massive benefit to us.

“What we now need is the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to take rural crime seriously and agree to prosecute offenders. We have poachers come onto the estate with dogs after hares, which are a protected species.

“CPS lawyers need to take these offences as seriously as fish poaching. Yes fish have an economic value that hares and foxes don’t have but that doesn’t mean poaching those species isn’t just as damaging to the environment.”

Julian Sandham added: “I’m delighted to see how rural crime here on Anglesey is being tackled and we are seeing the benefits of a closer working relationship between the police, farmers and managers.

“It’s good to see and North Wales is fast becoming a beacon of good practice when it comes to rural policing plans. There is no doubt things are working better than they ever have and we are now reaping the rewards with a sustained reduction in rural crime.”