FOUR badgers were mauled to death by vicious dogs in a prolonged “tug of war” as their owners watched on, a court heard yesterday.
Scarborough Magistrates’ Court was told six men allowed the dogs to kill the badgers –including two unborn foetuses – in a field near a Malton farm in January this year.
William Anderson, 26, from Pickering, Alan Alexander, 32 and James Doyle, 34, are all charged with wilfully killing a badger.
Richard Simpson, 37, Paul Tindall, 33 and a 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are charged with the same offence.
All six deny the charge.
The court was told the badgers were brought to the surface by hunting dogs, with one badger shot in the head and a second dying of numerous serious injuries.
One of the badgers was then thrown into a hedge.
Prosecuting, Sobia Ahmed told the court the men’s actions were pre-meditated and that they had gone equipped to carry out the killings.
She said: “Anderson had been given permission to carry out pest control on the land and had been notified by the owner of a badger sett and had been told not to go near the site.
“At around 11.30am on the day he phoned the police to tell them that he was shooting.
“That was a calculated move to deflect police officers.
“Witnesses heard dogs barking excitedly followed by the squealing of an animal in distress.”
The court heard from Robert Fuller, a professional wildlife artist, who was walking along a nearby river trail when he heard the distressed badgers screaming from three fields away.
He said: “I heard continuous barking and thought it sounded like a badger in distress.
“I could see that the dogs were worrying something and I crawled under the hedge to get a better view.
“When I arrived there was a badger being bitten and nobody made any attempt to get the dogs off it until it was so badly injured then it was shot.
“The badger was squealing and chittering – almost like the sound of pig when it is in distress – and it was a prolonged noise.
“The dogs were almost playing tug of war with the badger which tried to attack them but they were shaking it violently.
“I saw four people, with one who looked to be in charge of the dogs.
“He was walking around them and goading them as if it was a spectator sport.”
Christopher Holmes, 28, and Malcolm Warner, also 28, have pleaded guilty to wilfully killing a badger digging for badgers and interfering with setts.
They will be sentenced in January.
The trial continues.