Coursing is a country sporting tradition that goes back to Roman times. The object of official coursing is not to kill the quarry. The rules are designed to give the hare a better than even chance of escape. The course then becomes a contest between the greyhounds' speed and the hare's mobility. The dogs score point each time they force the hare to change direction and on average only one hare in eight will be caught.
The hare that lives on a coursing estate is protected from natural predators, such as foxes; no one will come along to shoot it or spray its food with chemicals; and its favourite habitat will be preserved. In return the hare has to run for its life once or twice a year if it is unlucky enough to be rounded up by the beaters and driven past the dogs. (Fewer than 300 hares were killed through the six-month winter season at National Coursing Club (NCC) meetings in the UK in 1993.) And if taken, the dogs deliver a quick and relatively painless, natural death.