VIDEO: South Yorkshire animal welfare group calls for shooting ban after footage shows animals being blasted on estate

Part of the footage from the HIT team.
Part of the footage from the HIT team.

Animal welfare campaigners are calling for grouse shooting to be banned after footage emerged appearing to show animals being trapped and blasted on a country estate.

Police are investigating allegations that protected wildlife was killed on the Moscar estate, near Bamford in Derbyshire.

The Hunt Investigation Team said they gathered evidence which appears to show badgers caught in traps and shot earlier this year. Other animals, including a mountain hare and a fox, were also allegedly found in the snares.

While the traps are legal in the UK, It is a criminal offence to injure, kill or ill-treat badgers under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992 in England and Wales.

The Peak District estate is used for grouse shooting and is owned by the Duke and Duchess of Rutland.

But the South Yorkshire Badger Group claimed the snares are set by estate gamekeepers to target animals which hunt eggs laid in the ground by grouse.

The organisation said they are killing the animals for the sole purpose of keeping the grouse population high so people will visit the estate to shoot them.

A spokesperson said: "The traps cause huge suffering to the animals, and in the course of it badgers - a protected animal - are getting caught up in them.

"The policy seems to be to kill a great number of animals just to keep the grouse population high. If grouse hunting was banned then it would follow that less animals would be killed."

The HIT team said an estimated 400 wire snares were set across the estate. They claimed two badgers, one mountain hare, one fox and three lambs were found caught in the traps over a four-week period in spring.

The activists alleged that one badger was shot and dragged off to be buried in a nearby wood. A second badger was allegedly caught overnight and endured “a prolonged capture and botched release.”

HIT said investigators were able to release the three lambs unharmed, while a female mountain hare allegedly died from internal bleeding and stress after being caught in a snare.

They added a fox struggled frantically to free itself before being shot three times when the gamekeeper arrived.

A spokesman for the Duke and Duchess of Rutland was quoted in a national newspaper as saying: "They were not aware of any alleged illegal activities being carried out on the land. They are horrified by these allegations and will investigate them fully.”

We contacted their official residence at Belvoir Castle but a spokeswoman said the estate did not want to provide a comment.

A Derbyshire police spokesman said the force is investigating.