GAMEKEEPERS have hit back against a League Against Cruel Sports report on trapping and snaring, saying that it is is 'riddled with fag packet estimates and wild extrapolations'.

The LACS report alleged that 57,000 'killing devices' were deployed each day in Scotland, killing 'up to a quarter of a million' animals each year as the game sector attempted to 'totally eradicate foxes, stoats, weasels and crows' to increase the number of grouse available for shoots.

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association commented: “It is more customary for us to answer press queries on genuine research – this is not that. This is a tactic by an animal rights group designed to cause as much noise as possible around August 12.

“The document, which is not a peer reviewed report, is riddled with fag packet estimates and wild extrapolations, major confusions over what is legal and what is not and ‘facts’ from discredited papers from the anti-grouse moor group, Revive, which have already been exposed," said the SGA.

“This propaganda document is cobbled together by an anonymous ‘investigator’ and authored by an individual, Professor Stephen Harris, who was called out by fellow academics for misrepresenting science, only to leave his post at Bristol University by mutual consent weeks later. His funding by animal rights groups over many years is worthy of an investigation in itself.

“Scottish Government’s own nature advisers, Scottish Natural Heritage, conducted a thorough and independent review of crow trapping only a few years ago. Stoat traps have recently been overhauled by EU legal changes," added the SGA.

“While it is now sadly customary for rural debate to be blind-sided by alternative facts such as this latest attempt by LACS, we hope Scottish Government sees beyond the agenda and treats this with the disdain it deserves.”

Scottish Land and Estates' moorland director Tim Baynes said: “The start of the grouse shooting season was a clear reminder of the social, economic and environmental importance of moorland management in Scotland.

“It’s good for jobs, communities, it provides habitat for a tremendous array of wildlife. Moorland managed for shooting also delivers multiple environmental benefits in terms of water quality and carbon capture.

“The use of traps and snares are vital land management tools to control certain species to protect livestock, crops, and wild birds. Their use is heavily regulated and specialist training is undertaken by land managers to ensure they are set correctly and lawfully."