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25 April 2019, 11:54 | Updated: 25 April 2019, 17:29
The Countryfile and Springwatch host has received backlash after voicing his opinions on hunting and killing "pest" birds. Two petitions are now doing the rounds one calling for Packham to be sacked by the BBC, the other defending the wildlife conservationist.
An online petition has been set up, calling for Springwatch presenter Chris Packham, 57, to be sacked by the BBC.
Over 73,000 people have signed the petition, following Packham's campaigns against killing "pest" birds and hunting.
The petition was set up by Andrew Hayes on 24th April, who stated: “As an employee of the BBC, Chris Packham should remain impartial and keep his views and beliefs to himself. However, he is the face of many anti-hunting campaigns and uses his celeb status as a platform to push his anti-hunting agenda, he has made his goal to ban all kinds of hunting, and country sports and pursuits and I feel he is no longer fit to work for the BBC.”
Another petitioner commented: “His biased opinions and hatred of countryside management are damaging our country.”
On 13th February 2019, Packham launched a non-profit company called Wild Justice, with author, blogger and campaigner, Dr Ruth Tingay.
According to its mission statement, Wild Justice seeks to take legal cases against public bodies on behalf of wildlife.
The company, which is funded by public donations and crowdfunding, lobbied against the killing of "pest" birds such as jays, woodpigeons and crows in the UK. This led to the Government's conservation watchdog to revoke a license which permitted such activities across the country.
Speaking about the ruling, Packham and Wild Justice released a statement saying: “We are delighted to have won this legal case. What sort of world is it where the statutory body with responsibility for wildlife protection is operating a bird-killing licensing scheme that is unlawful? Millions of birds are killed each year under the terms of the General Licences and many of these deaths will not be justified. We are grateful to over 1100 individuals who funded this legal challenge and allowed us to take it with the means to progress it through the courts.”
Good morning! Yesterday afternoon @NaturalEngland conceded Wild Justice's legal challenge of the General Licences https://t.co/sXkwrgNkvd England's wildlife agency has been running an unlawful licensing system for years. More on this through the day.— WildJustice_org (@WildJustice_org) April 24, 2019
These actions have sparked outrage across the UK, with farmers and those who reside in the countryside demanding the Countryfile host to be sacked by the BBC.
An opposing petition has also been circulating, asking the BBC not to sack Packham, which has gained 70,000 signatures so far.
Rob Neil, who set up the counter-petition, defended Packham, saying: “Chris Packham is a much loved and respected naturalist and presenter, who campaigns for wildlife and conservation. The Countryside Alliance and other organisations are calling for the BBC to sack him, in other words silence him, for speaking out in his campaigns. We think his campaigns for wildlife are justified, as they are based on scientific evidence, and he keeps his campaigning and role at the BBC separate.”