Animal welfare campaigners have blasted a duck shoot at the Hoghton Tower estate on Saturday, claiming it was 'amateur butchery'.

But the shooters have hit back, calling the protestors 'interfering extremists' and blame their interference for any cruelty inflicted on the birds.

The North West Animal Welfare group claims the shooters left injured birds to die where they landed.

A spokesperson said: "Shot ducks were landing on or near public footpaths. Several shot ducks landed out of the sight of the retrievers and were not picked-up immediately.

"They could have been in agony for several minutes before dying from the impact of crashing to earth and the shooters wouldn't have had a clue."

Hoghton Tower refused to comment, and referred queries to the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).

Spokesman Simon Clarke said: "They're animal rights extremists and their actions have prevented people going about their legal business.

"They were interfering before the ducks could be dispatched.

"They're shot, picked up by dogs and brought back to be dispatched. The extremists were interfering and should have left it to people who knew what they were doing."

Police were called as the two parties clashed on fields just north of the tower, but no one was arrested.

Video footage of the shoot has now been posted on the website of the North West Hunt Saboteurs Association, with a write up of the event, which claims a hunt saboteur was left to put dying birds out of their misery.

A spokesman for the animal welfare group said: "The utter callousness of the duck shooters had to be seen to be believed. They appeared more interested in killing as many ducks as possible rather than dispatching those they had injured. This wasn't sport this was amateur butchery."

The BASC spokesman confirmed the sabateurs had video recorders, but blamed them for interfering with the destruction of the injured birds.

Mr Clarke said: "There is video footage of the animal rights extremists getting in the way of the shooters as they were attempting to dispatch the ducks. They're not experts and they shouldn't have been interfering."

And he added: "They didn't stop us on the day and I doubt very much that any shooters in Lancashire will be deterred by this sort of extremist action."

A police spokesman said: "We received a call from Hoghton Tower during the shoot. Officers attended the scene and a report of criminal damage has been filed."