A covert recording of a Highland gamekeeper killing wild birds with a stick in a legal cage trap has highlighted the need for humane despatch.

The footage, which Shooting Times magazine understands was recorded in the northern Cairngorms, shows the gamekeeper attempting to despatch 12 crows over eight minutes, with limited success.

Although it is unclear whether any laws were broken, animal rights group OneKind said the birds were ?the victims of unnecessary mental and physical suffering?.

But it says prosecutors have decided that the group?s footage is inadmissible as evidence because it amounts to surveillance, referring to a previous case in which the evidence of an RSPB officer against a gamekeeper was similarly not admitted.

The unnamed OneKind field officer who took the footage maintained that she came across the gamekeeper purely by chance: ?I was not looking for evidence of snaring offences or any other offences for that matter,? she said. ?And even if I had been, it was purely fortuitous that I came across that awful scene.?

The Scottish Gamekeepers Association (SGA) clarified that the gamekeeper involved is not a member of the organisation.

SGA chairman Alex Hogg said: ?The SGA adheres to best practice when it comes to despatching animals in legal traps and this information is distributed to members. Welfare is the key issue and the animal should be despatched as quickly and humanely as possible.?

The GWCT?s Mike Swan said: ?In multi-catch cages, I go in properly equipped and kill quickly. If you use a pair of protective gloves, then that gives you the confidence to grab the birds individually, rap their heads on the frame and break the neck. Then you?re certain they won?t wake up with a sore head.?