Five men have been found guilty of wildlife and animal cruelty offences after being caught badger baiting by police in East Yorkshire.
Andrew Booth, Kirk McGarry, John Horner, George Horner and Richard Willey were each convicted of 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.
The dogs, known as Dizzy and Paddy, suffered severe damage to their muzzles, which police say were consistent with injuries caused by a badger defending itself.
Shockingly, one of the dogs was “very far into pregnancy” and gave birth just weeks after being forced to hunt down the badgers.
The men were all engaging in badger baiting – a blood-sport where a pack of dogs is released into a badgers home. When the dog finds it, baiters dig down to get hold of the wild animal – it is then usually either attacked again or sold to underground groups.
Richard Willey, 46, of Hull, as well as John Horner, 19, and George Horner, 26, both of Bridlington, were guilty of offences contrary to the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 and the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Also found guilty for the same offences were Andrew Booth, 44, and Kirk McGarry, 50, both from Doncaster.
All five men will be sentenced on January 23.
The incident, which took place last December, was reported to the police by a man who spotted the group digging into the sett at Melton.
Wildlife crime officers attended the scene and arrested four of the men before a fifth was identified later after running away when he spotted police.
The two dogs were wearing locator collars which are used to find 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 weren’t used.
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.”