Chris Packham has said he will not be intimidated by campaigners who left two dead crows hanging outside his home and glued shut his security gate.
The broadcaster told the police about the threats and vandalism, which came after the Wild Justice group he founded with fellow conservationists Ruth Tingay and Mark Avery successfully challenged the “general licence” that allowed the shooting of 16 species of bird, including crows, jays and woodpigeons.
It will be illegal to shoot these birds from midnight without an individual licence from Natural England, the government’s conservation watchdog. The ban has infuriated the game and shooting industry, as well as many farmers. Natural England will draw up a new system of licensing after a review of the ways in which “pest” bird species can be controlled.
“I’m not going to be intimidated,” Packham told the Guardian. “People like me with Asperger’s are not affected by this sort of thing. It doesn’t weaken our resolve. We’ve seen it this week with the trolling of Greta Thunberg. We don’t care about that sort of stuff – it’s a complete waste of time but it’s unpleasant for my family.”
Packham welcomed Natural England’s decision and said it was a chance for the regulation of bird killing to move into the 21st century. The Springwatch presenter also said he continued to support British farmers and said they had every right to control birds if they had tried non-lethal methods.
He added: “For some reason, the usual nefarious interest groups have managed to whip up the farming lobby and people are lashing out because they realise that regulation is coming in a world that for so long has had such lax regulation. They realise change is coming and it will be change for the better.”
The abrupt halt to the licensing system, which came on the day the influential environmentalist Tony Juniper took over as chair of Natural England, has been criticised by the National Farmers’ Union, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation and the British Game Alliance, which warned the banning on free pigeon shooting could affect 57 small game-processing businesses, which export game to Europe.
Tom Adams, managing director of the British Game Alliance, said: “Tony Juniper has inherited the worst crisis in Natural England’s history. The pigeon sector is relied on by game processing businesses to keep them going through the ‘closed season’ of the spring and summer when no game birds like grouse and pheasant can be shot. Hundreds of jobs are at severe risk if a solution isn’t found.”
According to Packham, he was spurred on to take action with Wild Justice after meeting a man shooting for pleasure in woods close to the presenter’s home. He said: “This man did not have a farm or business nearby but said he was ‘shooting vermin – jays, magpies and crows’. They are not ‘vermin’. They are part of an ecological system and they are not doing him any harm. That isn’t about people’s livelihoods or the regulation of bird populations – that’s just wanton vandalism.”
Packham’s glued gate did not stop him getting to work to make a documentary about punk rock: instead of driving, he took a taxi to the railway station.