POP star Madonna has sparked fury from animal rights groups by importing 1,000 baby pheasants from France for the shooting season.

The chicks have been penned at the 1,200-acre estate in North Dorset that the singer shares with her film director husband Guy Ritchie.

According to reports in the national press, the birds will be allowed to mature with 31,000 other chicks, brought in from Wales, on Madonna's Ashcombe House estate, near Tollard Royal, in time for the arrival of the guns on October 1.

The controversial move comes just a year after the material girl, 48, vowed to quit shooting after watching a badly wounded bird she had shot die in front of her.

Andrew Tyler, director of national animal rights group Animal Aid, said: "I think it's shameful and deeply hypocritical.

"It's not chic, it's sick. She needs to think about what direction her moral compass is pointing."

Both Madonna and her husband have given up shooting, but will open up their estate for the sport next month.

Keen hunters can pay up to £10,000 a day for a group of eight guns to shoot on the estate, which is now regarded as among the top 10 game sites in the country.

More than 35 million pheasants, many produced in industrial hatcheries, are raised and released for shooting every year.

A spokesman for Madonna declined to comment.

It is not the first time that the Dorset mother-of-two's management of her estate has sparked controversy. Three years ago she won a legal battle to stop ramblers wandering near her £9 million home.