A hare courser has been fined £500 for using a dog to try to catch an animal at Glenrothes Airport.
William McPhee was photographed at the aerodrome by a neighbour who saw the dog come within five metres of catching a brown hare.
Poaching and hare coursing are offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and perpetrators can face jail.
McPhee, 49, of Gartgill Stables, Coatbridge, admitted illegally using a dog to attempt to intentionally or recklessly to kill, injure or take a brown hare on July 1, 2017.
However, he protested he had never hare coursed and the only reason he pleaded guilty was to avoid the cost of going to trial.
Representing himself, Mr McPhee said he had taken his youngest son, aged 12, to see the airport and the dog had jumped a fence.
He said: “I can’t afford the lawyers’ costs to appear here and to go to trial. I have never hare coursed in my life. I am pleading guilty to something I never did.”
Procurator fiscal depute Keith Jones told Sheriff Gilchrist that just after 8.30pm a resident saw a van pass his house on a dead end road and when it parked at the end of Osprey Road the occupants got out with a greyhound or lurcher-type dog.
He said: “The accused jumped the fence into the airport and the dog went with them.
“The dog was instructed to chase the brown hare. The dog chased the hare along the length of the runway, getting as close as about five metres before the hare managed to escape through the airport buildings.”
The witness gave photographs to police and McPhee was traced on September 14.
PC Lindsay Kerr, wildlife crime liaison officer for Police Scotland’s Fife Division, said: “We welcome the conviction of William McPhee in relation to hare coursing crimes committed in the Glenrothes area.
“We are committed to continuing to tackle wildlife crime across the kingdom and will not tolerate hare coursing activity.
“This is a crime and not a sport and we are committed to bringing those who partake in it before the courts.”
A second man William Alexander McPhee, 27, of Woodview, Slamannan, Falkirk, denied the same charge and charges of illegally trying to kill, injure or take a hare during the close season and entering the restricted area of an aerodrome without authority or permission.
He was absent when the case called at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court on Thursday and a warrant was issued for his arrest.