Police have made five arrests and seized dogs and a van after a badger was killed in Hambleton early this morning (Friday).
Residents called police about suspected poachers at about 1am.
It was after a 4×4 vehicle and a high-powered torch were seen being used in a field near Kilburn.
When officers arrived, the men got into a black Jeep Cherokee and made off at speed, abandoning their dogs.
Officers searched the area and located the car off the A170 near Felixkirk.
The five men inside were arrested on suspicion of wilfully killing a badger, an offence under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992.
The two dogs were taken to a secure location to be looked after, and the Jeep was seized. A dead badger was found at the scene.
The five suspects, who are from the Stockton-in-Tees area, remain in custody at this time while police enquiries continue.
In the aftermath of this incident police are urging anyone who is aware of suspicious activity in rural areas – for example, vehicles or high-powered torches in unusual or unexpected locations – is asked to report it.
Dial 101, press 1 and pass the information to the Force Control Room. Or if you see a crime in progress, dial 999.