Three men have appeared in court over alleged badger baiting.
The three defendants are all accused of causing unnecessary suffering to both a terrier dog and badger and interfering with a badger sett.
Graham Arthur Officer (40), from Rose Park, Donaghadee, and brothers Chris (21) and Ryan Kirkwood (19), both from Island Street, east Belfast, appeared at Newtownards Magistrates Court.
Ryan Kirkwood is also charged with resisting police.
Darren Millar (39), from Rainey Way in Belfast, did not appear in court for medical reasons.
All three defendants spoke to say they understood the charges.
A police constable told the court this was “an extreme and disturbing case”.
She added that the USPCA said it was the worst case of animal cruelty in many years.
District Judge Mark Hamill said the men were to desist from any type of hunting-related activities and were warned to stick to their bail conditions which also included a 9pm to 7am curfew, and continued bail of £500.
The men were arrested by police as part of operation Meles, the PSNI’s investigation into badger baiting across Northern Ireland.
A number of properties were searched in the Banbridge and south Armagh areas.
The three accused are to appear in court again on June 8.