Three men have been handed suspended jail terms for interfering with a badgers’ sett on Sunk Island, near Withernsea.
Terrance Murry, 47, of Ottringham, Shaun Chapman, 29, of Hull city centre, and Gary Douglas, 40, of Staffordshire, were discovered digging up the sett on December 5 last year.
They said they were “bushing” for foxes and rabbits and denied knowing they were interfering with a badgers’ sett.
Chapman, of Trinity Wharf, said his dog, a black Patterdale terrier, had gone into one of the holes of the sett after a fox.
He said he used a digital locator to follow his dog and the men used two spades to dig above the sett.
Douglas threw one of the spades away before the men left the area.
Humberside Police helicopter arrived at the scene and officers on the ground arrested the three defendants.
Murry, Chapman and Douglas were found guilty of contravening section three of the Protection of Badgers’ Act 1992 at Hull Magistrates’ Court in September.
Following the compiling of probation reports, Murry, Chapman and Douglas were each sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and 200 hours of community service by Judge Frederick Rutherford yesterday.
They were also fined £2,000 each to cover the costs of the investigation.
Sentencing the three men, Judge Rutherford said: “This was an intentional attack on a current set, known to be a live set by yourselves at the time of the attack.
“It was an attempt to kill animals by the use of digging out the sett and with the soul purpose of causing terror and suffering to a protected species.
“I have to have regard to the guidelines for such cruelty, and as a consequence of these particular guidelines custody is appropriate.”
It is a serious offence to kill, injure or take a badger, or to damage or interfere with a sett under the Protection of Badgers’ Act 1992.
Other offences under the act include badger baiting, which can involve fighting badgers with dogs for money.
The maximum jail term for a person prosecuted for an offence under the act is six months, and fines can reach £5,000.