POLICE have dropped enquiries into the deaths of badgers, found in snares, on an estate near Winchester.

The carcasses of the protected species were found last summer in woodland at the Heath House Estate.

League Against Cruel Sports investigators found snares and traps on the land near Stockbridge Downs beauty spot.

Wildlife crime officers interviewed estate employees and took away two badgers for examination. Four other badgers were too decomposed for analysis.

Officers also found the bodies of tawny owls, also a protected species, as well as foxes, crows and squirrels.

In a statement, the police said: "Following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, it was decided that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with any prosecution. All those involved have been released from bail and no further police action will occur."

Landowner Donald Hutchison told the Daily Echo that the dead animals had nothing to do with him or his staff. He said the animals could have been dumped or planted by people wanting to "besmirch" the reputation of an estate where shooting takes place.