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Bill Oddie calls Government 'ignorant and arrogant' over wildlife issues in Britain


Naturalist Bill Oddie has lambasted the Government for being "ignorant and arrogant" and says that being axed from Springwatch put him in hospital for a year.

The Goodies star, 72, said Britain's wildlife was suffering "one dip after another" and that the Government was partly to blame.

Oddie, who is highlighting the plight of the puffin in BBC1 series Britain's Big Wildlife Revival, said: "There's no point in pretending we're entering a golden age where there's this amazing sort of comeback for all these species."

He told the magazine that he worried that soon people would only be able to find "wildlife in any abundance or variety" in a nature reserve.

Oddie blamed "very greedy humans" for destroying many species but added: "I think this Government is stunningly ignorant and arrogant.

"The badger cull has had a lot of publicity but basically what you've got is scientific research that suggests this is not the way to curb bovine TB.

"But the Government turn round and say, 'Right, I see, we did this survey but it hasn't come up with what we want to hear so we'll ignore it'. And that seems to be the general attitude to just about everything."

In May, it emerged that officials had licensed the destruction of buzzard nests and eggs to protect a pheasant shoot.

Oddie said the incident was evidence of a vested interest, adding: "It's the old boy thing still. It's still these Old Etonian boys getting together on a whacking great estate shooting weekend. You keep seeing the links."

Oddie spent much of 2009 in hospital after, he says, he was dropped from popular BBC wildlife show Springwatch, which he presented alongside Kate Humble.

He told the Radio Times: "They (the BBC) just said, 'We won't be asking you to do it again', and actually you're so taken aback at that moment you don't insist, 'Why not?'."

When he tried to find out the reasons behind his treatment, the former comedian was given "a waffly statement".

"That put me in hospital for a year, basically," he told the magazine.

Oddie, whose mother was committed to an asylum when he was six, said he feels "absolutely fine" since being diagnosed as bipolar while in hospital and prescribed lithium, which he still takes.

"Now, when I look back, I think during that autumn period I was on a high because I was very edgy and tetchy. Your ability to work long hours and think quickly and that sort of thing is usually heightened," he said.

"But one or two people said to me, 'You know, you really intimidate people in the office', and I said, 'Why?', and they'd say, 'Well you know, you're sort of brusque and impatient sometimes'. I never thought so, you know. I look back and I think, yeah, I guess I was."

Oddie, who describes wildlife as a "refuge", added: "I could well see that there was an autumn of mania going on and therefore I was probably giving signals out which I didn't realise and, I imagine, signals were reported back.

"I think somebody said the public complained I was swearing at a cameraman or a producer when we were on location somewhere in a shop. I can't remember what it was but it's probably quite likely."