Five men who used two dogs, one of which was heavily pregnant, to attack a badger sett have each been jailed for six months.
Andrew Booth, 44, Kirk McGarry, 50, John Horner, 19, George Horner, 26, and Richard Willey, 46, were caught digging at a sett in East Yorkshire in 2017.
They were each found guilty of wildlife and animal cruelty offences at Beverley Magistrates’ Court last month.
They had denied the charges and claimed the dogs had been catching rats.
Humberside Police said the muzzled dogs suffered serious injuries “caused by a badger defending itself” in Melton on the afternoon of 30 December 2017.
Ch Insp Iain Dixon said: “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.”
Four of the men were arrested at the scene by wildlife crime officers following reports from a passing dog-walker who had seen them.
When police arrived, they were still digging at the sett with their nets strewn over the exit hole.
Booth fled the scene when he saw the officers approaching and was arrested later, police said.
The five men: Andrew Booth, 44, of West Road, Moorends, Doncaster; George Horner, 26, Brett Street, Bridlington; John Horner, 19, Constable Road, Flamborough, East Yorkshire; Kirk McGarry, 50, Southfield Road, Thorne, Doncaster; Richard Willey, 46, Westlands Road, Hull; all pleaded not guilty to wilfully attempting to take a badger, interfering with a badger sett by entering a dog into the sett and causing unnecessary suffering to a protected animal.
In addition to the jail time, they were also handed a 10-year animal banning order and told to pay £2,000 costs for dog kennelling and vets’ fees.