Delingpole: After Disastrous Bird Shooting Ban, Eco Loon Packham Is the Countryside’s Number One Pest

IVER HEATH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 12: Chris Packham attends the National Lottery Awards at Pinewood Studios on September 12, 2014 in Iver Heath, England. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)
John Phillips/Getty

Disgruntled country dwellers have upset BBC eco-loon Chris Packham by tying some dead birds to his gate.

I feel their pain. If I were a dead rook, I too would feel mortified at the horror of having my feathery corpse put anywhere near the premises of this sinister, starry-eyed, bunny-hugging misanthrope who has about as much understanding of rural affairs as Theresa May does of Brexit.

It’s not hard to see why Packham is so unpopular. He may live in the country but his sensibilities are those of the kind of townie who thinks that milk comes ready-skimmed in bottles from factories. He doesn’t give a damn about rural communities or the traditions that bind them or the relationship country folk have forged with their natural environment over many centuries. That’s why he’s just ridden roughshod over one of their most important freedoms: the ability to shoot avian pests — such as pigeons, rooks, and magpies — on their own land.

Packham’s campaign organisation Wild Justice has successfully ensured that it is now illegal for people to shoot nuisance birds on their own land. It did this by forcing Natural England — the quango partly responsible for policing rural affairs — to rescind the General Licence that farmers, gamekeepers, and such like are required by law to have if they are to shoot birds on their land.

If this sounds like a massive assault on property rights, that’s because it is. Ultimately, as so often with bad legislation, the European Union is responsible. Its 1979 Birds Directive made shooting birds effectively illegal, except with a permit. In the past, this bureaucratic obstacle has been resolved with a General Licence — issued originally by DEFRA, subsequently by Natural England — permitting the shooting of 16 different species of avian pest, ranging from Crows to Jays and Canada geese.

Wild Justice’s claim is that these General Licences were illegal because Natural England had not performed its due diligence by conducting the appropriate regular desk assessments needed to ensure whether the listed pest species are endangered and whether they are still appropriate to cull.

Rather than defend its position, Natural England quickly caved and withdrew the General Licence at 36 hours’ notice, putting farmers, gamekeepers and other shooting folk in a terrible bind. Spring is the time of year, of course, when avian pest populations explode. And also, of course, when they do the most damage to songbirds by feasting on their eggs and on their fledgelings. Rare species like curlews are thought to be especially vulnerable to these predators.

Particularly unpleasant are attacks on baby lambs by crows, which peck out their eyes, leaving farmers with no choice but to put down otherwise perfectly healthy animals.

But now country folk are powerless to protect them — unable to use either traps or guns to stop pests getting out of control.

You might have hoped that Wild Justice would understand this. Besides Packham (who presents wildlife shows for townies on the BBC and regularly campaigns on environmental issues, though as a BBC employee he is supposed to be politically neutral), the organisation is run by a former conservation director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).

But this is yet another reminder of the kind of topsy turvy world we inhabit: where environmentalists regularly campaign for measures which are actually going to decrease species diversity and kill wildlife (see also: the RSPB’s championing of wind turbines which, wags say, ought to see it renamed the Royal Society for the Prevention of Birds); where the organisations — Natural England — supposed to take care of country matters instead adopts the woolly, anti-farming, anti-conservation green ideology of the kind of Extinction Rebellion crusties who live in squats in inner city Bristol and Hackney.

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