Chris Packham: BBC presenter sent 'very serious' death threats after bird shooting ban

TV wildlife expert has been targeted in campaign of intimidation since legal challenge to unlawful licences

Chris Baynes
Tuesday 30 April 2019 19:08
Chris Packham says he has received 'death threats of a very serious nature'

TV naturalist Chris Packham has revealed he and his family have received death threats after he supported a legal challenge which resulted in restrictions on shooting birds.

The BBC Springwatch presenter said threats “of a very serious nature” and parcels containing human faeces had been sent to his home in a campaign of intimidation since Natural England revoked blanket licences to kill “pest” birds on farmland.

Wild Justice, a group co-founded by Packham, challenged three general licences which allowed the shooting of 16 species including crows, magpies, Canada geese and wood pigeons.

Dead crows were strung up outside the wildlife expert’s home last week, 24 hours after Natural England announced its decision.

Packham told Good Morning Britain on Tuesday: "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, a much more serious thing … Death threats of a very serious nature.”

He added: “I can't speak too much about what happened last night because I haven't been in touch with the police yet."

Packham said business and charities he works with had also been targeted, including the Isle of Wight Zoo run by his partner, Charlotte Corney.

The zoo, which is run by a charity which rescues and rehabilitates animals, was forced to shut down its Facebook page last week due to "an influx of negative and damaging activity," including malicious lies about animal cruelty.

"I'm very resistant to this sort of thing," Packham said. "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, leave them out of it. They're not necessarily sharing my views. They're not a fair target."

Packham said he could understand the frustration of farmers because they have been "misinformed".

The three general licences allowed landowners to kill "millions" of birds over four decades, according to Wildlife Justice, but its legal challenge demonstrated them to be unlawful.

The not-for-profit group, set up this year to take on legal cases on behalf of wildlife, sought a judicial review of the licences. But Natural England ultimately decided not to fight case, accepting it would lose.

As a result, the general licences were revoked on 23 April, to be replaced by individual licences.

Since then, a new licence allowing the killing of carrion crows had been issued but farmers and gamekeepers have complained it is “hurried, botched and completely unfit for purpose”.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

Bodies including the British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC), Countryside Alliance, and the National Gamekeepers Organisation have written an open letter to environment secretary Michael Gove calling on him to intervene in Natural England's decision.

They said the revocation of licences which previously allowed them to freely shoot birds had placed livestock and crops at risk.

BASC last week condemned vandals targeting Packham’s home but said the new licensing rules were causing havoc at one of the busiest times of the farming calendar.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in