CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed a decision by a Scottish estate to ban all traps and snares and end sport shooting. Kildrummy Estate in Aberdeenshire was among those used as a field study case for a report published by the League Against Cruel Sports last week. The Calculating Cruelty report claimed up to 260,000 animals are killed each year on Scottish shooting estates to increase the number of grouse. It said nearly half of the animals killed are non-target species such as hedgehogs, dippers and mistle thrush.

Now, the new owners of the Kildrummy Estate have revealed plans to rewild parts of it and end wildlife persecution on their land.

The 5600-acre, £11 million estate was recently bought by American couple Chris and Camille Bently, directors of the Bently Foundation. They plan to rewild much of the estate, bringing it to a more natural state to create a better habitat for wildlife.

Commenting on their decision to rewild and eradicate cruelty from their land, Camille Bently said: “My husband and I oppose all forms of animal cruelty and abuse of wildlife as our family foundation focuses on grant making to wildlife protection causes worldwide.

“We have every intention for Kildrummy to operate to the highest ecological and wildlife conservation standards and to be a positive example of supporting a healthy, biodiverse environment while taking all possible measures to protect threatened species.

“We applaud the study done by the League Against Cruel Sports and support their mission to create greater transparency and accountability for the treatment of wildlife.”

Robbie Marsland, director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, added: “We were thrilled when the Bentlys got in touch to tell us their plans for Kildrummy and we’re obviously delighted that they share the League’s position on cruel traps, snares and game bird shooting.

“This is a hugely positive development after our mapping project illustrated the extent of wildlife suffering taking place every single day simply to maintain artificially high numbers of grouse for shooting. We hope other estates in Scotland will follow the excellent example set by the Bentlys at Kildrummy and they too end the industrial scale cruelty towards wildlife on driven grouse moors.”

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association contested the results of the Calculating Cruelty report, saying it was only “a tactic by an animal rights group designed to cause as much noise as possible around the August 12”.

A spokesperson went on: “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.”

The League defended the study, saying: “A surveyor, with more than 20 years’ experience of game management recorded the scale, distribution and use of legal grouse moor management equipment and practices.”