Two hunt followers have been found guilty of interfering with badger setts as they tried to flush out a fox.
Seward Folland, 75, and Nathan Bowes, 26, were filmed by hunt saboteurs as they blocked entrances to badger setts at Chulmleigh, Devon, in November 2019.
Bowes, of Brixworth, Northampton, was convicted of two offences, and fined £940 at Exeter Magistrates’ Court.
Folland, of Puddington, near Tiverton, Devon, was fined a total of £732 for one offence.
Both men, from the Eggesford Hunt, said the setts were inactive at the time of the incident, but Deputy District Judge Roderick Hine ruled they were in use.
Bowes, who was a kennel man, told the court he was there to “humanely dispatch” a fox which had gone to ground.
Terrier man Folland, with 45 years experience, said Bowes laid nets to “bolt the fox in the net to be humanely destroyed”.
Judge Hine said their convictions were based on the grounds of “recklessness rather than deliberate interference”, and said they failed to carry out proper inspections of the setts as they were in a “hurry to get the fox out”.
Greg Gordon, prosecuting, told the court that four hunt monitors were watching the Eggesford Hunt when they filmed the two defendants in woodland.
He said both men were trying to flush out a fox and the footage showed them blocking the entrance to the setts with earth, debris and nets.
Alex West, defending both men, said Folland had made a mistake and said the conviction for Bowes would be significant as he still works in the hunting sector.