A HAMPSHIRE landowner has strenuously denied any involvement with the killing of badgers found on his land.

Police are investigating after six carcasses of the protected species were discovered in woodland between Winchester and Stockbridge.

The League Against Cruel Sports said its investigators found 50 snares and traps in woodland owned by Heath House Estate and other dead animals including tawny owls, foxes, crows and squirrels.

But landowner Donald Hutchison told the Daily Echo that the dead animals had nothing to do with him or his staff.

Foxes, crows and squirrels - all regarded as pests - were killed but legally, he said. He denied anyone had harmed badgers or tawny owls.

Mr Hutchison, 73, said: "The police came on to the estate with three people with disguised faces, their caps pulled down and photographing everybody. None of us have been interviewed by the police.

"I think the badgers have been planted. Animal activists know we have a shoot here. They are targeting shooting estates to try to prove things against shooting.

"We do not kill badgers. It is not the thing that we do. No illegal traps have been placed in our woods."

"The wood is on the edge of Stockbridge Downs (a National Trust reserve) and it would be easy for anyone to dump these animals. I find the whole thing somewhat twisted and extraordinary," said Mr Hutchison.

The police have refused to confirm or deny that they are investigating the killings.

LACS chief executive Douglas Batchelor described the killings as "the worst case of badger slaughter I have experienced."

Mr Hutchison said that soon after the arrival of LACS activists, the car of a hurdle-maker parked on the estate was vandalised.

The hurdle-maker, who asked not to be named, said the Ford Mondeo was written off, with every window smashed and had since been scrapped.

"I have worked up here for the last 15-18 years and never had any trouble before this incident," he said.