Chris Packham CBE – national treasure or endangered species?

Chris Packham is a mate of mine – although he’s not very matey really. But he’s also a colleague and he’s a great guy. He’s had a lot of flak in the media and social media since we, that’s Chris, Ruth Tingay and myself, Wild Justice, won a legal challenge against the system of General Licences operated by the statutory wildlife agency in England, Natural England. We’re very proud of what we did – chuffed to bits in fact – because we are causing the licensing system to be overhauled and improved for the benefit of wildlife and people.

It has been a David and Goliath battle where three part-time nature conservationists (admittedly backed up by the most brilliant of legal teams) took on the government agency with all its lawyers and experts and we won! The statutory agency with responsibility for wildlife had been running an unlawful licensing regime for wildlife-killing for decades. That’s no small thing.

But when the status quo shifts, and it is shifting quite considerably, those who are used to the status quo get restive – it’s natural.

It’s natural for people to let off steam and get angry, particularly when they have been fed lies by others, and this is just a phase in the process of coming to terms with a new reality. It’s a bit like the five (or seven, or more) stages of grieving.

But some people have gone way over the top in their anger over how the licensing system is changing and much of the flak has been directed at Chris. Now Chris is the famous personality and the public figure, and he is a bit of a Marmite character anyway (you love him or hate him (I love Marmite and I quite like Chris Packham)) and so it’s somewhat natural that he is a lightning rod for anger.

But it’s gone too far – way too far.

You’ve probably seen or read about some of it that is in the public domain: dead crows hung on his driveway, simple crude abuse in the media, a package of faeces in the post and now death threats.

Today’s story in the Daily Mirror – quite chilling isn’t it?

Remember what Chris (and Ruth and I) have done is simply to show that the government agency had the law wrong. They were wrong so they now have to fix what was wrong.

Death threats for being part of a team which won a legal challenge against the government? What is Britain coming to?

Now Chris seems to shrug all this off – he’s pretty tough. I’ve spoken to him most days over the last week and I always ask him how he is and he always says he’s fine. I think he is pretty fine really. And he certainly isn’t one to buckle under pressure – more likely to get more determined!

But what you have seen in public is just the tip of the iceberg. There has been a concerted campaign running for years to try to get the BBC to look less kindly on Chris who is, let’s face it, one of the BBC’s best assets as a broadcaster. Did you see the programme he made about Asperger’s Syndrome, which Chris has, and which brought this mental condition to the fore in a way that had never happened before – powerful stuff. And remember how he swung the vote for the Icon of the Twentieth Century to be Alan Turing – a geeky mathematician! Chris won that contest for Turing with brilliant advocacy and oration – and again he showed his power. Chris’s book, Fingers in the Sparkle Jar wasn’t a simple and vapid celebrity memoir it was a powerfully honest tale of what sometimes amounted to mental anguish. When Chris turns his skills to protecting nature then people who wouldn’t listen to others will listen to him. The people who are nasty to our wildlife, and many vested interests, can’t stand seeing the likes of Chris Packham getting above themselves and showing power – they are afraid that change is in the air and they want him to be squashed. And all the more so after he was recognised in the New Year Honours List as a CBE for services to Nature Conservation – not TV, not broadcasting, but nature conservation.

So-called countryside organisations, and some MPs, have been bombarding the BBC with letters of complaint about Chris for ages – ages and ages. The campaign is unrelenting and vicious and the BBC keeps it hidden from the public gaze. It’s a hate campaign, from individuals and organisations, being waged against Chris. Some well-known individuals and charities would be shamed if their correspondence to the BBC were published.

The hate campaign surfaces now and again in public petitions calling for Chris to be axed – and counter petitions calling for him to be kept but the really vicious campaign is going on all the time below the surface. Attacking not Chris’s arguments but his livelihood, his friends, his workmates and the businesses and charities with whom he works. The aim is clearly to make anyone associated with Chris take a step back. It’s the nasty brigade looking for metaphorical blood but when that happens it is no surprise that some issue death threats as well. It’s utterly unpleasant and shows how low our society has sunk.

Chris Packham is a mate of mine – but even if he weren’t I would sign this petition supporting him and I would write to Tony Hall, Lord Hall of Birkenhead CBE, Director General and Editor in Chief, Broadcasting House, Portland Place, London W1A 1AA tony.hall@bbc.co.uk asking him what he is doing to protect one of the BBC’s finest broadcasters from harassment.

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95 Replies to “Chris Packham CBE – national treasure or endangered species?”

  1. Well said Mark. I can’t help feeling that the lack of police action in so many cases on wildlife crime, whether it be raptor persecution, or fox hunting, leads the criminals to think they can do whatever they want and will never be punished. Chris is bearing the brunt of police inaction.

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  2. I don’t personally think the bbc should stop using him however people calling for that can’t be lumped (no pun) together with faecies being put through his letter box.

    The bbc is a public body with a duty of impartiality it’s entirely legitimate to lobby it. It’s entirely illegitimate to crap through someone’s letter box.

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  3. Chris Packham is hated because he forces his views on people all in the name of wildlife but the truth is most of it is driven by hatred of people who partake in things he dislikes. Fact

    The recent legal challenge was a ruse to disrupt the shooting industry nothing else. None of the 16 species on the GLs are endangered. Chris just cleverly found a backdoor to stab the shooting industry and personal individuals who shoot in the back. That is why he is on the receiving end of hatred and backlash. Fact.

    He blatantly uses his position as a BBC presenter to further all of his agendas and shows huge bias. Fact

    Mark- when are you going to start stating the full truth in your blog instead of spin? I'm not saying either side if this argument is perfect but at least be transparent about the full extent Chris's real motives for his actions.

    There are a huge number of people now rising up against this constant campaign of hatred against people in the name of wildlife.

    S

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      1. Absolutely nobody deserves the sort of cowardly treatment that Chris Packham is receiving and there is no excuse for it. It makes me sick. Chris is certainly a national treasure and he has the right to bravely stand up for what he believes in without any of this nastiness. If people disagree with his viewpoint let them do so through open, free and civilised debate. I hope whoever is responsible for these craven acts lands in jail soon.

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    1. Your 'facts' are nothing more than your own views - ill-founded and full of hatred. Want a real fact? People are getting sick of subsidising an industry that doesn't care for wildlife nor the views of the public or even laws, and feels it can bully anyone that doesn't do what it says. Be clear about this - if anything happens to Chris Packham, the real backlash will be huge and you will finally realise how out of touch and disliked you really are.

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    2. I have never understood how shooting can be regarded as an industry. It seems ludicrous to me that people can pay to shoot an artificially produced excess of animals for pleasure.
      i do get that some people genuinely enjoy killing. And become very skilled at it. And spend a lot of money acquiring that skill. And perhaps it's better for them to expend their energies on, eg killing pheasants than other excessively produced species such as sheep, or people.
      I know it's traditional, and has many advantages for many people, not just the elite, but then so did, for example, serfdom, colonialism, slavery. If you had money enough, in those times, you could indulge in it. If you had less money, but wits, you could exploit it. And everyone else could put up with it, because that was the way things were.

      I can see that sometimes a dark side of humanity is normalised, tolerated, admired, encouraged even. It happens with individuals ('He raises huge amounts of money for charity.' 'Yes but...' 'Clunk click, every trip,' how many lives did that save?' 'Yes, but...') and it happens with whole societies ( As a country we pour huge amounts into worthwhile charities, Children in Need, Medicine Sans Frontiers, and we also trade arms because if we didn't, somebody else would.)

      So, maybe (see above) it is after all an industry. Endorsed by a cross section that starts with the Royal Family and ends with bullies in the night sending excrement and death threats. And if you have money enough, you can indulge in it, and if you have wits, you can exploit it. And everyone else can put up with it, because that's the way things are.

      But in my view, it's an unjustifiable, deplorable, dark, industry and the sooner it's gone the better.

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    3. It's funny that you use facts whilst stating falsehoods. The law is the law, and Natural England were forced into conceding that the General Licence implementation is not legal, and so had to change it. All Chris Packham was asking for is for the law to be adhered to, and that is a FACT.

      Another fact is that Wild Justice did not ask Natural England to suspend the General Licence, but that is a decision Natural England themselves took. The Deputy Chairman of Natural England is Lord Blencathra, a prominent supporter of the Countryside Alliance and hunting. Why aren't you attacking him instead of Chris Packham. He actually receives a large salary from Natural England. It was Natural England who chose to suspend the General Licence and Chris Packham had no power to do this, and did not campaign to do this. Chris Packham only asked for the policy to be implemented legally. Do you not support the rule of law?

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    4. Two things.
      Firstly it's quite telling that you don't condemn the death threats.
      Secondly, wildlife isn't for sport for people to kill for no other reason, than to kill. Regardless of whether an animal is on an endangered list, what gives people the right to kill a living being for the "fun of it". The "shooting industry" has no place in a modern, civilised society.

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  4. I'm hardly a Forensics expert but...this looks like the work of one hand...and when an application for a Firearm or Shotgun is completed it is done by hand so it should be possible-but probably expensive in terms of Police time- to match the writing against previously completed licence applications held by the police. Also, now that the writing is in full view of the general population I would hope that a law-abiding member of the public might recognise it and shop the perpetrator. Death threats I believe are criminal acts and no doubt carry with them an appropriate judicial custodial sentence. I would hope too that the identified perpetrator has all shotguns and firearms confiscated and be banned from keeping such for life!!
    Yes, you're right, a pipe dream.

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  5. I've signed the petition. Not because I have any serious concern that the BBC might sack Chris (can you imagine a more cowardly or ill-advised sacking in the face of a campaign of nasty bullying and even death threats?) but because I felt it was important merely to express my support for him at this time.

    Some people clearly dislike Chris a great deal and I find it fascinating to try to understand why. It can't be just his stance against things like fox hunting, the badger cull or raptor persecution. Plenty of other people oppose those things and think the way Chris does. I believe his personality rubs some people up the wrong way (as if that justifies the abuse he gets) but I think it is also his profile that these people resent, and on some level his success. The charges laid against him are invariably laughable (conspiracy theories and other drivel) but there are thousands of frightened shooters out there who sense change coming and fear and resent it. So he is a lightning rod that these people strike out against. I sense he is well suited to this role: brave, humorous, erudite and apparently resilient. But that doesn't make it okay for him to suffer the abuse he does. All those who lazily and so often anonymously criticise him (rather than his arguments) bear some responsibility for these recent attacks. They should all be ashamed. But they should also know that they are on the side that's losing and that the attacks on Chris only hasten that end. And that's another reason I signed the petition.

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    1. Just for clarity, the BBC cannot sack Chris Packham, because he is not an employee. The most they could do is no longer contract him to present certain programmes. Chris Packham is no more a BBC employee than a well known actor who appears in a BBC drama production.

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  6. Chris Packham is not one of the BBC's broadcasters, as they keep telling everyone, he does not work for them.

    He is a talented broadcaster and is knowledgable in his subject area(s) but to me he just does not come across as a genuinely nice person, in fact he seems to be a classic narcissist. But the public seem to like him. Farmers and shooting folk less so.

    Some backlash was to be expected and no doubt he had his media contacts on speed dial when the inevitable happened, another opportunity to get his own face on TV is not to be missed.

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    1. Exactly. Chris Packham is not a BBC employee, and he also presents wildlife programmes for other channels such as National Geographic.

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    2. "...no doubt he had his media contacts on speed dial when the inevitable happened, another opportunity to get his own face on TV is not to be missed."

      Golly! People are threatening to kill Chris Packham and are actually sending him shit in the mail but what you chose to see is Chris Packham just seeking an opportunity to get his face on tv!!!

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  7. S it’s not very nice when your regulatory capture of a statutory body is accidentally exposed with such stunning effect. No wonder it comes as a shock. You thought NE was in your pocket and it turns out not as much as you thought. Get over it, no one is stopping you killing things...yet. It will be the militancy and intransigence of the shooting lobby that ultimately brings it down. Starting acting reasonably and talking straight about these issues and there is still plenty of “pursuit” you can salvage.

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  8. This is a very serious suggestion.
    Crowdfund a reward for info as to who is involved with this.
    Could this be done through CrowdJustice?

    Somebody out there knows a lot about this, maybe many people. Maybe it was discussed at a pub or during a meeting. Money is powerful, particularly if you have little of it. A big chunk may well bring rewards. I believe that a large amount of money could be raised for this and would be very tempting to somebody out there.
    Made clear at the outset that any monies raised but not used would go to fund WJ, I think many would contribute.

    I believe the faeces can be tested for DNA but will this be done? Finger print technology has improved to the point where you can now take fingerprints off of wood or birds feathers, but will this be done by the police?
    How much real interest have the police got in solving this? I don’t believe we can rely on them, we must do this ourselves.
    Chris works and speaks for us against a vicious minority. It’s time we repaid him.

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  9. As Valerie noted earlier on RPUK, CPs two headed tadpole seems to have been taken off of eBay. Wonder what’s behind that?

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  10. Mark,

    Your reply to S is typical of the response by you and your supporters. His comments are valid and there to be discussed but instead of answering them, you choose a glib response. Would it not be better to address each of the points made?

    Chris Packham goes onto TV and talks about people shooting millions of birds for vandalistic pleasure and states there is no ambiguity about that, that is the case. He then states when questioned that he doesn’t know how many birds are shot and whether it is having a positive or negative effect because there is a lack of regulation within the shooting bodies. This is either misinformed or negative propaganda. No-one can just go out and shoot whatever they want for no reason. The person has to be licensed by the police to carry a shotgun and has to have permission from the landowner to shoot on their land. Farmers will not give permission unless they have a problem with the birds in the first place. Failure to obtain that permission is armed trespass.

    He also fails to mention the RSPB have issued figures showing an increase in Woodpigeon since 1970 to 2011 of 143% and 40% from 1995 to 2011. If there millions of birds being shot by vandals, he needs to prove it rather than just making an incriminating statement.

    It is also interesting to note that a live TV debate between Chris Packham and BASC was set up on Friday last week to be aired yesterday but was cancelled as Chris Packham refused. Why? I would suggest that this is the tactics used by anti hunting and shooting groups who make damaging comments publicly but refuse to discuss their claims publicly when the other side is present.

    On the other matter of people persecuting Chris, his family and organisations he is associated with, I for one find this totally unacceptable as do the majority of law abiding people in the shooting community.

    So rather than this continue why not have a unbiased debate on national TV where both sides can have their point of view put across

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    1. Kev - wouldn’t you like NE or Defra to be answering the questions? After all, they were operating an unlawful system and they are introducing a new one. But you’d rather have a short argument on TV would you?

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    2. Hello Kev,

      Given the responses that Chris has been subjected to over the last few days, could you really blame him for not turning up, given that he would be in such close proximity to people who clearly wish him harm? I wouldn't have fancied it myself, to be honest.

      Maybe it will happen in the future but not while all these vile threats are still in the air, I wouldn't think.

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      1. Hi Steve

        I don’t understand that argument. On the day that the debate was meant to happen, he chose to instead go on Good Morning Britain without anyone else there from BASC or another organisation who could argue his points.

        The last thing I would want to see is a live debate between Chris and BASC in front of a live audience as it will be filled with people ho would want to shout out and not let the individuals talk.

        As mentioned, I don’t agree with what has happened to him, his family etc but at the same time I don’t agree with one sided interviews that are used to communicate lies

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        1. Hello Kev,

          In fairness, he's likely to get far more exposure for his points on TV, so from his perspective, making such points to an audience of millions (I assume) was probably the right choice for him.

          When you say one-sided, I think that's more down to the interviewers, to be honest. It's their responsibility to ensure the right questions are asked in order to try and understand both sides. I think that Morgan fellow and his team tried to do the same to Chris on the ITV morning show, whatever it's called. But I don't think lies is the right word.

          You're right - it would be hard to have debates in front of an audience on such a subject, particularly in the current unpleasant climate. Perhaps it's something that might be arranged for the future. But given what the man's just been through, you can hardly blame him for choosing to take a different direction.

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        2. I think his interview was more about the threats he has received. Yes I would love the perpetrators to come forward and explain on national television why they thought it was ok to harass Chris and threaten his life. z

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    3. Kev, S did not make any valid points. He made some wild assertions about Chris Packham's motives which were based entirely on his own subjective opinion. Stating 'fact' at the end of a statement does not, in fact, make that statement true.

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    4. When and where did Chris Packham say this so I don't have to take your word for what he said, and so I can see what he actually said?

      Chris Packham has had his life threatened, with serious and credible murder threats. Chris Packham's address is being shared on the Facebook pages of pro-shooting and fieldsports groups, encouraging people to attack him at home, and Facebook have refused to take this down. Yet you wonder why he doesn't want to turn up at a BASC debate, when it is quite likely that some of it's members are threatening his life. Note how I say likely some of it's members, and not the organization per se.

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      1. Good Morning Britain yesterday. You can check it out on ITV HUB.

        It wasn’t a BASC debate, it was meant to be a debate about the revocation of the General Licence.

        Your comment about it being likely that members of BASC are threatening his life is not factual and you should be aware of the message it send out

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        1. So if I check it I will find the exact words "people shooting millions of birds for vandalistic pleasure"?

          "Your comment about it being likely that members of BASC are threatening his life is not factual and you should be aware of the message it send out"

          It's almost certain that whoever made these threats comes from a shooting background. Who else would be so energised to do this? Therefore it is not unlikely, but not certain that they could be a member of the BASC. This is what the term "likely" means.

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          1. Rather than argue with me, why don’t you just check it out. Yes the exact words

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    5. We can do a lot better than a debate on the telly we could have a TV series where a team of two people visit relevant sites across the country - traditional sporting estates, progessive sporting estates, nature reserves, rewilding projects and ecotourism initiatives. One person would be a pro field sports rep, the other a mainstream conservationist/rewilder and each would choose the sites to visit alternatively. They would get to argue their case in the field, simultaneously the other person could point out flaws or failings in their case at the site, also they would have the chance to concede anything or change their mind. Imagine a trip to a traditional grouse moor followed by one to Abernethy or Glenfeshie, seeing how much wildlife each site has, how good they are for locals and jobs. You could have someone like Roy Dennis or Chris Packham 'partnered' up with the likes of Tim Baynes or Andrew Gilruth. The odd couple pairing would be legitimate (the cases for prosecution and defence!), but potentially also very informative and entertaining telly. I honestly can't think of an easier way of giving this massive, convoluted topic the amount of attention it deserves whilst giving all the issues over fairly. The one thing I know is that it wouldn't go 100% in favour of anyone's viewpoint, but I'm very confident we would come out of this a hell of a lot better than the shooting fraternity.

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    6. It can be very hard to get Mark to answer simple questions [Mark writes: I have deleted the rest of this comment. Giles if you cannot be succinct and non-repetitive then you'll find that few of your comments get posted. We've been heere before. Behave.]

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    7. "talks about people shooting millions of birds for vandalistic pleasure and states there is no ambiguity about that, that is the case"

      The actual phrase used was "it would stop the vandalistic killing of millions of birds, which are not killed because they are damaging crops and pet, they're just killed because people want to go out and kill things for pleasure".

      In other words you did not directly quote what he said, and he never used the phrase "vandalistic pleasure". He said the killing was "vandalistic" not the pleasure. He later said that this was shooting for pleasure i.e. as opposed to out of necessity.

      As you know very well a lot of people shoot these birds for sport, and not out of necessity. There've been a number of articles and letters in the shooting press which have made this clear. Plus I was brought up in the countryside and know very well how and for what reasons these birds are shot.

      The fact, and this is an actual fact, not one of your made up facts, is that the General Licence and indeed the law states these birds can only be shot in very specific circumstances. It does not allow the shooting of these birds because you believe there are too many of them and by killing them you are somehow protecting songbirds. It does not allow you to shoot these birds because you feel they might do something. You can only use lethal control methods if these birds are specifically causing a particular problem in a specific place, and non-lethal methods have been unable to prevent these problems or are in practical. For instance the old General Licence specifically said that it was not permissible to kill these birds if they were simply thought to be a nuisance.

      This is what the law says, not simply what Chris Packham was arguing. Yet for years many people have just gone out to shoot these birds when they have not being causing the specific problems laid out in the terms of the General Licence. This might be the tradition in the countryside, but it is quite contrary to what the law says. How do I know this, because I was brought up in the countryside and I myself have shot these birds because that is what we were told to do, albeit it a very long time ago. However, in the intervening time I've spoken to enough shooters to know very well that countless people still shoot these birds in an ad hoc way, not because they are causing any specific problem, but because it is felt that these birds deserve to be shot because they are pests.

      The very justification used by shooting interests and indeed Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, paraphrasing the arguments of shooters is that corvids predate songbirds, demonstrates that people were shooting corvids for reasons quite contrary to the terms of the General Licence. Going out and randomly shooting corvids because you feel that you are protecting songbirds is quite clearly contrary to the terms of the now former General Licence. You could only legally shoot corvids for this purpose if you were part of a conservation organization protecting particularly vulnerable breeding birds i.e. in a very specific set of circumstances. By using this argument, clearly demonstrates that shooters were not sticking to the terms of the General Licence, but were randomly killing corvids because they saw themselves as some sort of nature vigilante, which was illegal because it was contrary to the terms of the General Licence, and these birds were otherwise legally protected.

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  11. You see Mark, its mostly all about damaging the shooting industry and/or those who shoot not about a genuine desire to protect endangered wildlife. The responses to your blog posts show that clearly. What did the legal challenge cost? Could that money have gone to a cause to protect birds under real threat?

    Chris Packham's refusal to have a debate with BASC is also an obvious sign that this crusade for justice is based on sentiment rather than science and that he is hiding his true agenda.

    S

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    1. S - the legal challenge won't have cost Wild Justice anything in the end we hope - because we won. We were prepared to lose, but we won because the previous licensing sytem was unlawful. You can't get away from that fact and your imaginings of the motives of the claimants are irrelevant because anyone, you, Tim Bonner or some dancer off Strictly, had they taken this challenge, would have won it too. You see, it's about wildlife law being administerd by a statutory wildlife agency for the benefit of wildlife and according to the law.

      We didn't fight the law, we didn't change the law, we made a statutory body abide by the law and attempt to issue licences that will be lawful. We'll have to see how they get on with that won't we?

      It will have cost the taxpayer some money limited by the Aarhus Convention. That sum will be higher than otherwise because NE prolonged the case (as was their right of course) but then had to admit that they would lose if it went to court - you may want to ask NE about that and how they got into this mess in the first place. I've heard some interesting rumours but you shouldn't believe everything you hear, should you.

      I don't know anything about some debate on the TV and I have no idea whether Chris declined or not. He does have a living to make and I know he is impossibly busy filming etc. It could also be the case, but I don't know, that the news of death threats was more appealing to broadcasters than other aspects of the issue. I really don't know.

      What does 'mostly all' mean?

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    2. No, it's about conservation. You don't seem to understand that conservationists are passionate about conservation of the natural. Really, the shooting lobby is their own worst enemy. For most of my life I have argued against banning shooting. Now, after myself being pursued, smeared and threatened personally for simply highlighting conservation issues I think that the shooting lobby is completely out of control - they are acting like a bunch of gangsters. If there was a movement to ban shooting, I would no longer stand in it's way or argue against it like I have in the past. In fact, previously Chris Packham has defended shooting on BBC Springwatch. I doubt that very much he would ever do that again. I think you must wake up and smell the reality. Generally the public doesn't approve of shooting for sport, and they would be even more disapproving if they knew about the really went on. If you want a war with conservationists - you will lose badly, because they have the public support, and the shooting lobby doesn't.

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    3. Indeed S - ask Mark [Mark writes: rest of comment deleted because I feel Giles is wasting my time with all these attempts to say the same things over and over again]

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    4. Nobody is owed a "debate" and nobody is required to turn up anywhere just so they can be slagged off in the name of it. Demanding otherwise is pure entitlement.

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  12. Hi Mark,

    I agree NE and DEFRA need to sort their act out but that is not my point. What I am challenging is Chris Packham and others communicating false information that in Chris’ case, because of his high profile is taken as gospel without a right to reply from the section of the community that is being affected.

    Are you going to address the points made by S and myself ?

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    1. Kev - I don't feel I have to answer every point made by every person who comments here, no. But you are very welcome to make them politely.

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    2. Who, as a matter of interest, is preventing that ‘section of the community’ from replying? And just exactly what is the false information CP and others are communicating?

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      1. Yes, exactly Bill. The shooting community has replied vociferously in lots of different ways and in different places including the letter to Michael Gove from the heads of BASC, CA, MA etc. They have found sympathetic platforms to put across their point of view in various newspapers.

        The suggestion that the people who are annoyed by the recent events surrounding the general licences are denied a right of reply is self-serving nonsense. Perhaps Kev and S could explain how the fact that Mark is not preventing them from commenting here on his blog is consistent with their whiny complaint of being denied a right of reply.

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        1. There is a difference between commenting on here compared to being on national TV. As a matter of note, what I posted was not a “Whiny complaint” it was a statement that Chris Packham uses his celebrity status to issue negative propaganda which is untrue without challenge as he did on GMB yesterday

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          1. You are alleging that there is no right to reply to Chris Packham. With respect that is rubbish. I did not see the GMB interview but there have been interviews on various tv and radio programmes and representatives of the shooting organisations and the farming industry have been interviewed in the same segments as the Wild Justice trio and given full opportunity to put their side of the debate. It is simply untrue to suggest that Chris Packham is somehow monopolising the airwaves to the exclusion of people opposing his views.
            As I pointed out, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and others have given prominent space to various people to complain about the withdrawal of the general licences with no attempt to give equal space to CP or Ruth or Mark to put their side of the case. Why are you not complaining about that? Sauce for the goose and all that...
            The truth is that when it comes to the use of privilege to promote a particular point of view the shooting industry is really in no position to criticise anyone. It has close contacts with government and the editors and owners of national newspapers such as the Telegraph and is happy to lean on them to advance its own interests.
            So really your suggestion that Chris Packham is using his celebrity status to advance his cause 'without challenge' really is a whiny complaint that has no basis in truth.
            As to your dismissal of the significance of your own right to reply being exercised on this site, what do you think the chances are of Mark or Chris being given space in Shooting Times?

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      2. Chris Packham is. He will not debate his views with anyone who disagrees with him from an organisation, unlike Mark.

        The false information mentioned in my initial post to Mark that Chris made on live TV without anyone challenging him

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        1. Got to agree with this; CP does seem averse to any form of debate with the opposition.

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          1. Richard B - and who, do tell, represents the opposition? Tim Bonner?

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    3. What false information is Chris Packham supposedly communicating? If you are citing the done to death mistake about Lapwings being shot, that is a fallacious point because a) Chris immediately corrected himself and b) Lapwings were indeed shot in the past.

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  13. What point is that S? The actual point is that Natural England’s licensing policy was illegal. I for one am frankly sick of shooting and hunting groups believing that they are somehow above the law. Chris Packham doesn’t force his views on anyone. If you don’t like the law then get it changed rather than trying to stifle the legitimate right of every citizen to enforce the rule of law.

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    1. I am [Mark writes: you are many things Giles but you are being boringly repetitive and trying my patience. You are also off subject. That's why the rest of this comment has been deleted].

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  14. Curiously the anti-Chris campaigners are not so vocal in criticising Sir David Attenborough's support of the Extinction Rebellion (https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/david-attenborough-climate-change-strike-greta-thunberg-extinction-rebellion-a8887841.html), nor do they accuse Sir David of seeking publicity. Perhaps, like all bullies, they don't fancy picking on someone too big.

    Meanwhile a spiteful hashtag has appeared on twitter advocating glueing Chris to all sorts of objects, including London Bridge at low tide. The bullies will say they're just having a bit of fun, as bullies always do, but at who's expense? After Jo Cox's murder we should remember that there are some truly dangerous and deranged psychopaths out there in our increasingly nastily divided country. The constant vilification and attacks on Chris Packham have already culminated in a death threat. I take that seriously and those who have been attacking Chris should consider whether their words and actions have contributed to that threat.

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    1. You are right to take it seriously. The incidents with the faeces and the dead crows already demonstrate that some people are prepared to up the ante from abusive tweets to actual acts of aggression and spite. As you suggest, it only takes one person who is sufficiently unhinged to take a step further and do something truly dangerous.
      I am not on twitter but would be interested to know if BASC, CA et al have responded to Chris' request for them to comment on the crows suspended from his gate. If they have not, why haven't they? They should have the integrity and the courage to state clearly that they condemn that and other similar acts and threats. If they fail to do so one can only conclude that implicitly they condone them.
      Anyone coming across any message on social media that includes any implied or actual threats of violence (even when dressed up as 'humorous' against Chris or anyone else involved in this controversy should report them to the relevant platform owner/operator.

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      1. JW - You are wise not to be on Twatface. Though it can act as a means of dissemination of useful stuff, for the most part it is where the Trolls live. A clear example of trolling is asking for comments - lack of response feeds wrath and faux outrage and any response perpetuates the trolling.

        I should like to know the true origin of 'troll'. Most people think of hobgoblins under bridges - for me it's the lazy way of fly-fishing by towing a lure behind a boat to see if anything snaps at the passing bait.

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        1. it's definitely the fishing analogy. Trolling however can often mean just disagreeing with someone publicly in a way they don't want to respond to.

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  15. Hi Mark

    That’s disappointing as I thought you had a bit more integrity. Ok thank you for your time

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  16. Nick H - my point that you are all more concerned with hating the shooting/hunting/fishing?? community than actually doing good for wildlife. That's the underlying reason for your actions but you just hide behind the statement that this was to ensure the GL was lawful to protect wild birds! Could WJ have caused more harm than good for some wild birds through this? Who will analyse that? Noone will because this isn't about science or fact its about your feelings.

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    1. S - 'you are all more'? You've said that several times, it isn't true of me and I don't know whether you are suggesting it is true of Nick H but it's a bit rich if you are. Move on, please.

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    2. Might I suggest that your self proclaimed concern for wildlife exists only because it gives you a pretext to kill or trap so called pest or vermin species.

      If, for any reason, you were ever prevented from shooting or trapping you would no longer be interested in the fate of any species.

      It's about you establishing control and dominance over the natural world. No more, no less.

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    3. S - You couldn't actually be more wrong and the general nature of your response is typical, frankly, of the reaction of many of the "shooting/hunting/fishing community" when anybody complains about what they are doing. Your response implies that it is some sort of class issue. I can't speak for others but that is not my motivation at all. I am a fisherman and used to shoot. I don't have a problem with the "shooting/hunting/fishing community" where those activities are carried out legally. The point is though that in many cases they are not and there is a prevailing attitude amongst many people I know that wildlife laws are wrong and that they are therefore optional. Well, it doesn't work like that and if you believe in the Rule of Law you have to comply with it. No doubt you would expect the law to protect you if you were threatened like Chris Packham has been.

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  17. All the ire directed at Chris Packham while Lord Blencathra, who resurfaced on Saturday to admit that he as acting Chair of NE had signed-off the whole sorry series of events, is overlooked. Given his close connections with the Countryside Alliance, it would seem he has thrown the farmers and pigeon shooters under the bus in order to deflect the blame onto Chris Packham. We know the CA dislike him and have tried on several occasions to have him removed from the BBC. It seems inconceivable that the CA didn't know this was coming but appear to have preferred to take this opportunity in order to incite anger and hatred on the back of the inconvenience brought upon farmers and shooters.

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    1. Self-evidently Lord Blencathra is far more culpable, as Wild Justice did not ask Natural England to suspend the General Licence, but Lord Blencathra has a paid position with Natural England. However, it speaks volumes for how the shooting lobby sees this i.e. they see Lord Blencathra as their man, keeping control of Natural England and maintaining their grasp of our statutory conservation body.

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    2. Not forgetting Teresa Dent - CEO of the GWCT and Board member of Natural England!

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  18. As an example of unintended irony that 'you are a twat and a nasty piece of work' is hard to beat.

    It is a pity that instead of speculating wildly about Chris Packham's true motives, S could not bring himself to repudiate such a vile and sinister threat made against Chris.

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  19. I've followed Chris since the 1980s. I was too old for the Really Wild thing, but as an aspiring nature photographers I read Chris's books on photography, and he did a few TV shows, appearances on nature photography. I always had great respect for his talent, but thought at times he was a bit sardonic, not that it makes me lose respect for someone's abilities. But then when Chris came out with his Asperger's diagnosis I felt a bit guilty as it explained everything. Plus I thought his users guide version of The Nature of Britain, was much better than the main version presented by Alan Titchmarsh.

    Chris has done a great job. It's beyond absurd that he is on the receiving end of this hate campaign. All Wild Justice has done is ask for the law to be upheld by Natural England, and yet it seems that the BASC, NFU, Countryside Alliance, Moorland Association, CLA, GWCT, National Gamekeepers Organization etc, don't have any respect for the law and never have done. It appears that they just think the law is for other people and they don't have to follow it themselves. Which is presumably why so many of them are involved in the illegal persecution of raptors, whilst denying it. It appears in their world view, the only crime is getting court. Again this is about the law, and if they want the right to just be able to kill corvids, Wood Pigeons etc, whenever they feel about it, they should say this and not use legal contrivances to break the law, and then pretend they are law abiding.

    The law has been what it was for a long time, and so were the terms of the General Licence, which clearly did not allow the shooting on will of these species, although it is clear that all these vested interest groups believe it did, demonstrating that arrogantly none had even read the terms of the General Licence, let alone adhered to them.

    However, if the law is up for review, then the whole legal position of releasing vast numbers of non-native Pheasants into the countryside, which causes massive damage to our native biodiversity needs to be reviewed. Likewise, it needs to be considered whether waging war on native biodiversity to protect game birds is acceptable should be allowed. Remember that Wild Cats and Pine Martens used to be found all over Britain, and most methods to kill other mammalian predators will almost certainly result in gamekeepers killing Wild Cats and Pine Martens.

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  20. I am appalled and saddened by the attacks on Chris. The work that he, and Mark and Ruth and many others, have done deserves our support in every sense. I have signed the petition, and I'm not going to engage with the unpleasant tone of some of the comments in the media, just to say that we all know that evil flourishes when good people do nothing. So let's carry on doing something, continue to support Chris and Mark (and David Attenborough, of course), and remember that even Sir David will need a successor one day. Or, given the challenges facing us, many successors. Thank you Mark for giving us this space to say we're right behind you.

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  21. I'd like to make some general points here.

    In the past conservationists often defended shooting, including myself. This was because of the supposed "ethical shooter" i.e. the shooters who supposedly upheld conservation principles, and disproved of the illegal killing of protected raptors etc. This is what led conservationists to try to work with shooting interests. Are shooters blind to how many conservationists, including ironically Chris Packham have defended shooting in the past, because shooting is not at all popular with the public, especially the nature loving public?

    However, over the years I've started to question whether these ethical shooters actually exist. I don't doubt that many shooters have a passing interest in the natural world. However, what I mean by "ethical shooter" is the type of shooter who cares passionately about conservation, who adheres to the law, and who would these principles before their interest in shooting. In other words, what should define an "ethical shooter" is one where it came to the law and conservation ethics, these would always come first.

    Unfortunately though, every time an issue of law or vital conservation such as the decline of Hen Harriers comes to the fore, these so called ethical shooters are silent. When the thuggish element comes to the fore and starts using threatening language and actions, such as when the evidence of the widespread illegal persecution of raptors emerges, there is a deafening silence from these supposed ethical shooters. At the very most they come out with bland assertions of they don't support illegal action. Yet they never openly challenge shooters breaking the law or who are involved in vicious smear campaigns against conservationists.

    Remember this latest thing is simply about the law. The law on killing birds on the General Licence has been clear for years. The problem was that Natural England didn't seem to be upholding the law, something they have now conceded, and many of those killing birds supposedly under the General Licence did not seem to be adhering to the terms of the general licence. Why should we have to be fearful of simply pointing this out? Suddenly all shooters are as thick as thieves, and when the lies are told about conservation organizations like the RSPB these so called ethical shooters never challenge their compatriots.

    What is very clear in this latest matter is that all the vested interest groups creating a fuss about this, are not claiming to have been adhering to the terms of the General Licence, they are claiming that these legal measures are interfering with what they want to do. Tacitly they are claiming the law gets in their way.

    This is purely about the upholding of the current law. From what I understand about Wild Justice it is solely an organization to uphold the law on conservation matters, and does not campaign for the law to changed. Yet the lies and propaganda emanating from the shooting lobby are that this is part of an anti-shooting plot to change the law. There is not one shred of evidence for this, and Mark has told us he buys venison from deer that have been shot.

    Where are these ethical shooters pointing this out? Do they actually exist? Or is the ethical shooter, just a PR contrivance? Do shooters not care about the law, and do they consider that as long as they can get away with it, then anything goes?

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    1. What an appalling campaign of bullying is being unleashed against Chris Packham. And, for what? Having the gumption not to be intimidated into silence by a bunch of anonymous cowards!

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  22. "He then states when questioned that he doesn’t know how many birds are shot and whether it is having a positive or negative effect because there is a lack of regulation within the shooting bodies. "

    Chris is right you know.

    Under the terms of a general licence there is no requirement for individuals acting under a general licence to submit annual totals of birds killed to the statutory nature conservation agencies.

    This differs from individual and I be live class licences where totals do need to be submitted.

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    1. so his statement that millions are being shot for vandalistic pleasure is not correct. He has made this figure up, as he doesn’t know how many. His comment about vandalistic pleasure is also a lie as Woodpigeon, crows etc are shot to prevent serious damage.

      This is my whole point, he is using his celebrity status on national TV to issue lies about what is actually happening to strengthen his argument. Whatever you believe in, you cannot condone that sort of behaviour, can you?

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      1. Kev,
        If NE believe the need is legitimate & lawful, does the ability to remove unwanted birds not still apply?
        Chris's argument is based on birds being killed for non legitimate and therefore unlawful reasons. What is there about that which you find so unpalatable and which might warrant death threats to be made against a fellow human being from those who might otherwise want to operate outside the law?
        Maybe both you and "S" can condemn unequivocally this attack on Chris or any other individual simply wanting the law upheld.

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        1. So he believes that millions of birds are being killed for non legitimate reasons every year. Where is the proof?

          I have already made my views known about the treatment that Chris Packham has undergone twice on this forum if you bothered to check

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      2. As far as I can tell, Chris, or the others at Wild justice do not have an issue with shooting/ lethal control as a means of protecting crops/ livestock/ wild birds of conservation concern where it is not possible or practical to use non-leathal methods. Which is alluded to in Chris' Victoria Derbyshire interview when he says that farmers can apply for a licence for lethal control should they need to.

        What is your evidence for Chris having made that figure up? I accept that it may not be correct, and he may believe it to be true, but why does he have to be the one who made it up if it is false? He could have read something somewhere, or been told it by someone he deemed to be trustworthy.

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      3. As I have just pointed out to you, you are lying when he said these birds were shot for "vandalistic pleasure" and Chris Packham never used this phrase. He said a lot of the the shooting of corvids was "vandalistic" because it was not done for a specific reason as determined by the General Licence i.e. they were just shot because they were seen as "bad birds", "vermin" that deserved to be shot. He then went on to say that this shooting was done entirely for "pleasure" as opposed to necessity. But he did not use these words next to each other as you have. Which is why I asked you for a reference, because I had a good idea that you were deliberately misquoting him.

        This is what he actually said "it would stop the vandalistic killing of millions of birds, which are not killed because they are damaging crops and pets, they're just killed because people want to go out and kill things for pleasure".

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  23. I'm sure Mark has previously quoted Gandhi: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win"

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  24. S - you are not understanding it at all. The general licenses have been proved to be unlawful. Things have to change and what CP and Wild Justice are doing is trying to open a dialogue with people who indescriminately shoot birds.
    What about the shooting in Scotland of thousands of mountain hares to satisfy a small amount of very rich people so they can shoot grouse. Is that right, no it isn't. And don't tell me about the jobs that could be lost. There is a thing called diversity. Think outside the box.

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  25. Coming slightly late to this news (as usual), I can only add my voice in support of Chris (and Mark and Ruth) in the face of this latest outbreak of thuggery on the part of the shooters.
    What is interesting is the change in tone of many of the long-standing commenters here. Usually, Mark and many of his supporters are at pains to point out that they are not against farmers on or shooters in general, but rather carefully direct their criticisms towards certain sectors or specific practices. But today many people are openly condemning the whole bunch - shooting in general and the many farmers who support it. Of course, we all know people who shoot and individual farmers who are thoroughly decent people, often with the interests of wildlife (and people) at heart. But there has always been a strong thuggish element running through those who work in the 'land-based industries' - I see it on a regular basis. There are significant numbers of thoroughly unpleasant characters, whose deplorable words and actions receive either tacit approval, or at least no condemnation, from a great many others in the same line of work. I think the shooting fraternity has shown its true colours during this sorry episode.
    I note that the petition we are being urged to sign seems to be an old one, relating to a previous attempt to get the BBC to cut relations with CP. Is there something more we could do now, both to show condemnation of the treatment of CP and at the same time let the wider public know the true scale of the killing of our native wildlife carried out as a matter of routine by the shooting fraternity and the farming industry?

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  26. Fiona - if you read my point , it is that CP and WJ are mostly doing this to damage the shooting community because of a personal dislike of what they do nd who they are, not because they care about birds. But they say it is all about the birds?? I just want them to admit it's not.

    Regarding mountain hares, I'm afraid I dont have the facts here so cant comment on it specifically but as a concept why is it wrong to cull one species for the good of another to provide industry which provides jobs and food? Farmers do it all the time to insects and birds so you can eat your cereal in the morning don't they?

    S

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    1. S - well, Chris doesn't comment here and I don't admit that because it isn't true. I'm glad we have cleared that up.

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    2. Provide Food?? Absolute piffle! I am confident that the vast majority of people who shoot do it because they enjoy using their guns as skilfully as they can-and it is most certainly a skill- and doing it in company they enjoy. Some of course are solitary in their so-called “sport”. In all the years I have been involved in shooting- well over 50 years now- I have NEVER met a shooter who depends on his/her shooting to put meat on the table and currently the shooting industry is finding itself thoroughly embarrassed, as it should be, by the despicable burying or burning of unwanted shot birds. I listened to the representative on one stall at the British Shooting Show as he whispered to my colleague that their unwanted birds were going into an incinerator!!!! And as regards jobs these are for the relatively very few and by contrast the money going into the economy from shooting pales into insignificance compared to that derived from tourism. The money made from shooting principally goes into the pockets of the shoot owners and managers and before you start blithering on about money going into hotels and pubs etc I think if you do your homework you will once again find the total to be a trifle as compared to tourism. Shooting could easily clean up its act and revert back to walked-up shooting where the bags were hard won-I know because I’ve done it- and it mattered little what the size of the said bag was because a good time in fresh air amongst friends was the main aim of the day and if you fired a shot and bagged a beast, and later did in fact eat it, then that was a bonus. Now it is all about how many hundred birds can be shot and standing at station on a peg in your finery whilst chickens are driven over you- yes Chickens because pheasants are no more wild these days than chickens-and banging away without any thought for wounding birds because a minion with his dog will hopefully find it and if not then so what! Again, I KNOW this to be true because I live right slap bang in the middle of a shoot and frequently pick up dead or wounded birds in my garden the day after the shooting because the beaters and dog men couldn’t be bothered to look harder to put the poor creatures out of their misery. Food is most certainly NOT the main goal of shooting and I absolutely defy you to say so!!!

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  27. Cannot understand all the fuss as it seems to me that all farmers ever needed was to protect livestock and crops and that seems they can still do.
    Of course it is awful if Chris Packham is being threatened in any way he must be allowed his views but I am not convinced this did not start off as a publicity gimmick and has blown up in everyone's face.
    Is there not a saying bad publicity is also good or something like that.
    Oh yes must add I have no gun and nothing to do with shooting

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  28. Oh dear, Dennis, the General Licence has, for many years, been used to do a lot more than protect legitimate concerns. Indeed, for many years I didn't know of its existence, I assumed that some birds had no protection of any kind and were 'fair game' throughout the year. Shooters I know have told me that certain species are shot for sport or target practice regardless of whether they are causing problems, which leads me to think that the legal challenge was entirely justified.

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  29. Great article on the whole but I would take issue with you calling Asperger's a mental condition. It is a neurological developmental condition that is neither mental health issue or a learning disability. People with it can also have added issues like mental health problems but they are secondary.

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  30. I’m watching two magpies skimming the rape looking nests..we have skylarks here. My swallows nesting in the stable will need added protection as will every other hedge bird in the garden, but I can’t give it. Crows are taking the eyes of lambs as they are born in the valley fields. If Messrs Avery/Packham could get out there and wave their arms around that might help. Buzzard populations have ballooned and are happily predating leverets as well as eating earthworms.There is a bit of a shortage of these so having huge amounts snaffled by buzzards and badgers means even less for endangered species. Thousands of pigeons circle the rape field, rising as the birds are gun goes off and settling quickly. My horses at least produce manure, encouraging invertebrates but it is too little, we need more flies and bugs spread more fairly. We live in a hypocritical time where meso predators are protected and their prey isn’t. Many hunt staff have been attacked and bullied over the years by the nasty brigade, little or nothing is done. If you are rightly saddened by Mr Packham being targetted then you should have been saying the same about the abuse groups of country people have been subjected to for a lot longer. Razor blades through the post, encouraging hounds away to get run over, spraying their faces. Hitting horses, spitting at old ladies in their gardens. Do you really wonder why someone like Mr P puts people’s backs up? As a special needs teacher I’m aware that people on the Aspergers or Autistic spectrum do behave differently in certain areas and can become very fixated even if they are wrong. I’m not a scientist but an observer in the countryside and my heart bleeds as the songbird populated is decimated, both by predation and by more and larger birds eating the food supplies.
    Common sense has blown away with the May blossom.

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  31. This is difficult. He has an opinion which runs contrary to a lot of people that have a close connection to life in the country, specifically the farming community. They take issue with his concept of the approach to certain species but they have a reason for doing so. However, that does not justify the backlash in terms of threats he has received. That is self destructive for the body of opposition on legitimate grounds to their cause. They have the evidence. They have to get up and off their bums to get the legal support to promote their case (Which is not just for monetary or 'privelage' purposes) to provide the evidence for the continuence of certain of their practices.

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  32. Where are OUR birds of Prey ???

    After 12 years of walking my Border Terrier in Yorkshire, Peaks and Lakes and else where....being from Manchester i am in the middle of all this beauty and I see sod all !! Loads of birds should be in the sky. It's evil people shooting them down and thank god Chris Packham is here to sort it out with his caring Wildlife team. You dudes with guns just care about money and your evil sport. Sod anything else

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