Badgers 'illegally killed' on shooting estate in Peak District
Police are investigating allegations protected wildlife has been killed on a shooting estate in the Peak District.
Footage allegedly shows badgers caught in snares and shot on Moscar Moor, near Bamford, Derbyshire, earlier this year.
The Hunt Investigation Team (Hit), which recorded the film, claim the animals were deliberately targeted.
The Duke and Duchess of Rutland, who run the estate, said they were unaware of any alleged illegal activities on their land.
Snares, which are not illegal in the UK, are used to catch foxes and rabbits, but are not permitted for catching protected species like badgers.
Hit, which wants to see grouse driven shooting banned, said during a four week period in spring the group covertly filmed on open moorland near Bamford Edge, and claim they discovered "horrific wildlife persecution".
They filmed two badgers caught in snares. The first, they believe, was shot by a masked member of the estate staff and buried in a nearby wood.
The second trapped badger is approached by another armed man who is seen trying to shoot off the snare, but the bleeding animal then runs off into the moorland with the wires still attached, the group said.
A spokeswoman for Hit, who did not want to be identified, said: "The sad thing is grouse eggs are not even a major part of a badger's diet, they're just a small part of it, so the persecution is completely disproportionate.
"Driven grouse shooting is not compatible with wildlife protection.
"What has been peddled as a traditional and respectable custom is actually at the expense of so much of the wildlife."
A spokesman for the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, from the Belvoir Estate in Leicestershire, said in a statement: "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."
Derbyshire Police said it had begun an investigation and would be examining the footage.
Sarah Fowler, chief executive of the Peak District National Park, said: "People are understandably distressed by these images, taken on a private estate.
"We will support the police in their investigation. We will also continue to support moorland owners in achieving good practice in managing the moors of the Peak District National Park."