Death threats made to TV presenter Chris Packham have been condemned by the shooting community after the outspoken wildlife enthusiast backed a legal bid which has restricted the shooting of “pest” birds.
The BBC Springwatch presenter said he had received “threats of a very serious nature” against him and his family after being part of an action brought by the Wild Justice group which resulted in Natural England revoking general licences that allowed 16 species of bird to be shot freely.
After Packham revealed the threats, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) issued a statement to “unequivocally condemn” the acts.
Steve Bloomfield, executive director of operations and shooting at BASC, said: “It will be no surprise to anyone that we don’t agree with Chris Packham on how best to manage the countryside, in fact we probably couldn’t be further apart at this stage.
“But the sort of behaviour and threats described by Packham does not help anyone’s cause and must stop.”
Three general licences, which allowed the shooting of crows, magpies, Canada geese and feral and wood pigeons, were revoked by Natural England last week.
Speaking yesterday, Packham, who had previously tweeted a picture of dead crows hanging on a gate outside his house, said: “The police have spent quite a considerable amount of time at my house over the last few days.
“We’ve had packages sent containing human excrement. Last night, I can’t speak too much about what happened last night because I haven’t been in touch with the police yet.”
He added that he had received “death threats of a very serious nature” against him and his family, while the businesses he works with had also been targeted.
The presenter added: “I’m very resistant to this sort of thing.
“What worries me is that the charities that I’m affiliated with, the small businesses that I work for, these people aren’t set up to take this sort of abuse, and yet they’ve had to close their websites, their TripAdvisor accounts have had to be shut down, because they’ve been bombarded by these bullies who want to take aim at me.
“My message is clear. Please, take aim at me, but leave all of the charities, all of the other businesses that I work with... out of it. They’re not necessarily sharing my views.”
Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Packham said he could understand farmers’ arguments against the licences being revoked because they had been “misinformed”. BASC took issue with that statement and criticised ITV for allowing Packham’s statements to go unchallenged by countryside experts.
Meanwhile, BASC and other bodies including the Countryside Alliance and the National Gamekeepers Organisation claimed the licencing decision had caused “chaos”. In an open letter to Environment Secretary Michael Gove, they urged him to investigate the move by Natural England.
A Defra spokeswoman said: “Natural England has made clear it took the difficult but unavoidable decision to change the bird control licencing system as a result of the legal challenge by Wild Justice. They’re working as quickly as possible to issue new licences.
“There’s no ban and people who need to control birds before all the new licences are available can obtain an individual licence.”