SECRET footage filmed by Animal Aid has revealed a game farm's 'secret shame' after live crows were left 'neglected' in cages without food or water for more than a day.

Animal Aid captured film showing the three trapped crows left to languish in two Larsen hunting traps on a farm near Bridgwater.

The charity says the traps are an inhumane way of trapping the birds ready to be 'butchered' by gamekeepers.

But the farm owners say the 'heavily edited' footage is an attempt by the animal charity to stop use of the traps.

Released to mark the start of the pheasant shooting season, the time-lapse video claims to cover the Larsen traps for 47 hours and 12 minutes.

The footage shows the birds, at Bonson Wood Game Farm in Fiddington, Somerset, were left 'neglected' for 35 hours on June 28 and 29.

Current law states the traps must be checked every 24 hours.

Fiona Pereira, campaign manager at Animal Aid, said: "What is clear here, is that the birds were stressed and desperate to be released.

"The poor bird left without water must have suffered greatly. Larsens and other traps are one of the shooting industry's dirty secrets.

"Confining highly intelligent birds in a small space for days at a time causes them enormous stress and even physical injuries.

"Most people don't realise that these traps are all over the countryside.

"Even when the legal requirements are met, life is simply hellish for the birds because no bird wants to be caged.

"It must be terrifying for the birds trapped as night fell because there would have been foxes that prey on crows roaming around.

"To cage birds that want to fly freely is abhorrently cruel when you think about what it means.

"The traps are in common use by an industry that breeds game birds only to shoot them out of the sky for 'sport', so it's little wonder that they treat crows with the same cruelty meted out to the feathered targets they need.

"The three distressed birds together have suffered feather loss, injury and their wings were prone to getting caught on the cage perch as they tried to fly past each other and escape the cage."

Larsen traps, which are legal in the UK, are commonly used by the shooting industry to catch crows and magpies.

The birds, part of the corvid family, are blamed for a reduction in the numbers of game birds produced for the shooting season.

The traps usually contain a decoy until an inquisitive live bird enters. It then attracts others alerted by its distress calls. Trapped birds are then usually shot by the gamekeeper.

In this case, there were two traps set side by side.

One trap had a single decoy bird in a compartment while the other trap had three birds crammed together in the decoy compartment.

Fiona added: "This was especially concerning because during this time one of the decoy birds had kicked over a small and totally unsuitable water dish in his cage.

"Our film showed that he was without water for more than 24 hours."

The footage has since been shared with Avon and Somerset Police and Bonson Wood Game Farm.

More than 5,000 gamekeepers are employed across the UK according to the British Association for Shooting and Conservation.

Nicholas Pardoe, owner of the farm and chairman of the Game Farmers Association, disputed the footage.

He said: "The farm is private property and the video was made without permission, which is an offence, and as such would not be able to stand as evidence in a court of law.

"While there is a clock in the corner of the screen, there is no way of knowing it is set accurately or that it indeed shows the correct passage of time.

"The video is heavily edited and does not amount to proof of any offence. There is clear intent that the bird should have water, evidenced by the presence of a water bowl.

"No bird was shown to die or even to have become weak. The filmmaker clearly has an agenda, which is to stop the use of Larsen traps.

"The video was taken some time ago, and this is the first I have heard of it.

"If they really had animal welfare concerns, they should have raised them with me or a member of my staff at the time, or even reported it to the relevant authorities, rather than releasing a film a few months later."

A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said that they had been made aware of a breach of the Wildlife and Countryside Act at a farm near Bridgwater.

They added investigations were ongoing.