Springwatch presenter Chris Packham has shared a shocking photo of two dead crows, hung by their necks from his garden gate, presumably as a protest against the recent ban on farmers shooting ‘pest’ birds on their land.
In the Twitter post, Packham asked countryside groups and public environmental protection body Natural England – which was forced into the decision to withdraw the licenses that allowed the culling – “can I ask you to comment on whether you condone this. Serious request”.
Earlier this week, Natural England responded to a legal challenge from environmental group Wild Justice, which was set up by Packham and others, by agreeing that the general licences that allowed the killing of birds from a list of 16 species, including crows, pigeons and Canada geese, were unlawful.
Under the licences, land owners were allowed to shoot the birds if they were seen as causing damage to property or crops, or posing health and safety risks, without asking permission and with no obligation to record the deaths or the reasons behind them. Wild Justice said that millions of birds were killed annually under the licences.
The vandalism at Packham’s home looks to be a backlash from some quarter against the decision and his part in it.
Following their victory, Wild Justice released the following statement, in which it was strongly critical of Natural England.
“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 1,100 individuals who funded this legal challenge and allowed us to take it with the means to progress it through the courts. NE could have, and in our view should have, conceded the correctness of our legal arguments many weeks ago. This would have reduced the financial costs to the public and allowed farmers and land managers more time to adjust to the news that their bird-killing actions may have been illegal for several decades.
“This is a mess of Natural England’s making – they have operated an unlawful licensing system and they have dillied and dallied over admitting it’.