TV wildlife presenter Chris Packham says he is not against shooting birds. On stage with fellow members of birds rights pressure group Wild Justice, the presenter of BBC programmes including Autumnwatch and Springwatch told an audience of hundreds at the Bird Fair at Rutland Water, Leicestershire, this weekend, that: “We have never been anti shooting.”
His statement is a long way from his position in April. On Good Morning Britain in April, Packham told presenter Piers Morgan that he wants to stop: the “killing of millions of birds across the UK, which are not killed because they are damaging crops. They’re killed because people just want to go out and kill things for pleasure.”
Packham made his comments while talking to grouseshooter and presenter of YouTube’s Fieldsports Channel, Charlie Jacoby. Packham invited Jacoby to interview him and other birds rights activists Ruth Tingay and Mark Avery on the Bird Fair stage. Here is the full video (from Saturday 17 August 2019):
Jacoby was banned from interviewing Packham and other animal rights activists including Animal Liberation Front press officer Jay Tiernan at the Game Fair at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, in July.
In the interview at the BIrd Fair, Packham, Tingay and Avery went on to say that they remain opposed to driven grouseshooting. They accuse grousemoor owners and their staff of illegally killing birds of prey including hen harriers and golden eagles, which eat grouse.
At the Bird Fair, Jacoby countered what he claims are lies about illegal hen harrier and golden eagle persecution. He pointed to the physical attacks on gamekeepers and shooters that have taken place since Packham began his Revive Coalition campaign against driven grouse-shooting.
Watch Packham’s post-match reaction at Bird Fair, where Jacoby interviews him backstage:
“With the government committed to working with grousemoors owners and gamekeepers,” says Jacoby, “I don’t understand why Chris Packham is still committed to trying to ban grouseshooting. It has been a record year for hen harrier chicks, and illegal bird killings are at a record low. All he is doing is inspiring bullying of hardworking gamekeepers and wildlife managers who deliver incredible conservation results in Britain’s uplands.”
In the video, Jacoby suggests that it is not gamekeepers but anti-grouse-shooting campaigners who are setting illegal traps for birds of prey, resulting in the recent photograph of a golden eagle near Balmoral with a spring trap or ‘fenn trap’ hanging from its feet.
Jacoby says: “No wildlife manager or gamekeeper would use fenn traps to kill birds, even if that were legal. There have been occasional accidents in recent decades where birds have been caught in these traps, which are set for vermin such as stoats. Suddenly, this summer, we have three cases of birds of prey caught in fenn traps. I blame unscrupulous bird rights activists, who will do anything to get a ban on shooting sports – even cause suffering to birds that almost reduced Chris Packham to tears.”