Two men from Doncaster were among five who appeared before Beverley Magistrates Court and weree found guilty of wildlife and animal cruelty offences.
They were found guilty of three offences: Of wilfully attempting to take a badger; of interfering with a badger sett by entering a dog into the sett; and of causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal (in relation to the dogs used).
These offences are contrary to the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Andrew Booth (44) and Kirk McGarry (50) both from Doncaster, John Horner (19) and George Horner (26) both from Bridlington and Richard Willey (46) from Hull appeared at Beverley Magistrates Court today accused of digging into a badger sett at Melton in the East Riding of Yorkshire on 30 December 2017.
Five dogs were also forfeited by the court and will be rehomed. Equipment relating to the offences was also forfeited.
The five will be sentenced on 23 January 2019.
These offences are in relation to an incident on the afternoon of 30 December 2017 where a concerned member of the public reported to the police that five men with dogs were digging into a badger sett at Melton in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
A number of officers including several wildlife crime officers quickly attended the location and found four men continuing to dig into what appeared to the officers to be an active badger sett.
The men claimed that two of their terrier dogs they had been using to catch rats nearby had ran away and entered the holes. They denied knowing it was a badger sett and stuck to their story throughout the investigation.
Kirk McGarry, Richard Willey and both George and John Horner were arrested at the scene. Andrew Booth was later identified as having been at the scene, having run off on seeing the officers approaching.
The men had four terrier dogs with them, two of them, Paddy and Dizzy had entered the badger sett. They emerged the next day with serious injuries inflicted to their muzzles consistent with injuries caused by a badger defending itself.
The two dogs were also wearing locator collars which are used to locate the dogs underground once they have made contact with a badger so that both the dog and badger can be retrieved from the sett. Two other younger terriers were also present but appeared not to have entered the sett. All of the dogs were safeguarded and have been housed in police kennels until the trial took place.
Chief Inspector Iain Dixon after the trial said, “Badger persecution in all its forms is a national wildlife crime priority which Humberside Police takes very seriously indeed.
“Badger digging is a cruel and barbaric activity and involves horrendous suffering to both the badger and any dog involved.
“In this particular case one dog named Dizzy was very far into pregnancy, giving birth within a few weeks of the incident which shows the uncaring and callous nature of those involved all the more.
“Anyone involved in this type of crime is a sadistic and cowardly individual who the Humberside Wildlife Crime Team are always on the lookout for and always welcome information about.
“This crime was reported to us by a member of the public and I would like to offer my thanks to them and everyone else involved in bringing this case to a successful conclusion.”