Five men from Yorkshire have been sentenced to a maximum term of six months in jail after being caught badger baiting.
Andrew Booth, 44, and Kirk McGarry, 50, both from Doncaster, John Horner, 19, and George Horner, 26, both from Bridlington and Richard Willey, from Hull, were all sentenced to a maximum term of six months in prison.
They have each also received three-year Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBOs), a £2000 fine and are all banned from keeping animals for 10 years.
The men were caught by wildlife officers digging into what appeared to be an active badger sett at Melton in East Yorkshire, after being called by a member of the public on December 30 2017.
Speaking after sentencing at Beverley Magistrates on Wednesday, Wildlife and Rural Crime officer Brandon Ward said it had been an unusual case and it was very rare to catch people in the act.
Two dogs, Paddy and Dizzy, had been sent into the sett with tracking collars.
They emerged the following day with serious injuries inflicted to their muzzles consistent with injuries caused by a badger defending itself. Paddy was lucky to survive his injuries.
Two younger terriers appeared not to have entered the sett.
Kirk McGarry, Richard Willey and George Horner and John Horner were arrested at the scene. Andrew Booth was later identified as having been at the scene, having run off seeing the officers approaching.
The men claimed that the 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.
Mr Ward said it was a good result and hoped it would serve as a warning.
The magistrates also ordered that the dogs be forfeited, along with equipment seized at the time.
Mr Ward said: "It was the quick thinking of the member of the public that meant we could get wildlife officers straight down there and make the arrests and save the dogs.
“Badger digging is barbaric and cruel and involves horrific suffering to both the badger and the dogs involved.
“These dogs will now be able to be re-homed and have the love and care that they deserve. It is in their nature as terriers to enter holes but what these men made the dogs do is almost indescribable.
"Paddy nearly died from his injuries but he needed a lot of vet treatment."
The men were found guilty 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.