Two men who looked on as their dogs tore apart a brown hare were each fined £400 on Friday.
Stirling Sheriff Court heard how John Gibson (27) and William McPhee (22) were spotted on farmland in Bridge of Allan with two lurcher type dogs at around lunchtime on February 21.
It was later discovered that the pair had been hunting with the dogs and the savaged and badly bitten carcass of the defenceless animal was discovered by police the next day.
Fiscal depute Ann Orr told the court of the injuries that the hare had sustained during the sickening mauling.
Mrs Orr said: “A postmortem of the hare found severe trauma and crushing of the chest and anterior abdomen, together with fur loss. The cause of death was confirmed as a dog attack.”
Police had earlier spoken to the two accused who had denied that they had been hunting using the dogs but were effectively snared themselves after DNA found on the carcass of the hare matched that of their dogs.
Gibson, of Slamannan, and McPhee, of Maddiston, both pleaded guilty to a charge of deliberately hunting a wild mammal.
The pair had not guilty pleas accepted to charges of possessing dogs capable of being used for hare coursing, intentionally or recklessly killing a wild animal by letting dogs off of their leads and causing them to course, and intentionally or recklessly hunting a wild mammal.
Gibson’s solicitor Paul Belardo told the court that his client was “a member of the travelling community”. He added: “As I understand it, this particular pursuit, prior to the implementation of the Act in 2002 [which outlawed it], was a fairly popular activity within Mr Gibson’s community both here and in Ireland.
“Mr Gibson had shortly prior to this incident got a rescue lurcher.
“He, along with the co-accused, who had a similar type of animal, decided that they would try this activity.
“They were not in fact aware that what they were doing was unlawful. He bitterly regrets his involvement in it.”
McPhee’s agent Mr Kelly echoed his colleague’s comments and added: “He [McPhee] has no intention of ever doing this again.”
The court also heard that both men no longer had the dogs.
Sheriff Wyllie Robertson fined both men £400 for the offence, these being reduced from £500 due to their early guilty pleas.
They will pay the fines off at £15 per week.
North West Hunt Saboteurs Association
Direct Action Against All Forms of bloodsports