BASC is urging the BBC to drop presenter Chris Packham from negotiations for upcoming shows after he was forced to retract claims that protected lapwings are being shot in the UK.

Packham’s official Twitter feed last weekend carried a graphic which linked shooting with a 53 per cent decline in lapwing numbers – despite the protected species not being on the quarry list of birds which can be shot.

The lapwings most commonly found in the UK are also on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species as a result of a population decline. There are around 140,000 breeding pairs resident in the UK, while 650,000 birds over-winter in the UK.

Packham has since apologised for misleading his followers on social media, but the post appeared at the same time as a national newspaper article claimed the presenter is in talks with the BBC to make more “hard-hitting”, campaigning programmes which could focus on the impact of shooting and hunting on rural economies.

BASC acting chief executive Christopher Graffius said: “The BBC should stop working with Chris Packham before their credibility is eroded even further by their association with him.

“If Packham can get the quarry list so wrong, he should not be trusted by the BBC to speak with any authority on shooting.

“Packham’s campaign against shooting has already damaged the BBC’s relationship with rural communities and yet the broadcaster seems intent on aligning itself even more closely with him.

“It is disappointing that the BBC, which should be an organisation of record, continues to employ somebody who spouts such extremist views and somebody who consistently gets it so wrong on shooting.

“A review commissioned by the BBC Trust found that some audiences felt the corporation’s rural coverage had ‘metropolitan bias’. If the BBC really does want to analyse the impact of shooting on rural economies, they should remove Packham and listen instead to the views of the people who actually live and work there.

“Shooting is worth around £2 billion to the economy annually and supports the equivalent of 74,000 full-time jobs. Shoot providers spend nearly £250 million a year on conservation, while shooters spend 3.9 million work days on conservation.

“When the BBC finally acknowledges that shooting is a lifeline for rural communities and vital for conservation – and for the very survival in the UK of birds such as lapwings – perhaps it will then be in a position to start repairing some of the damage done to its reputation by Packham.”

Garry Doolan

Garry Doolan is BASC’s deputy director of communications and public affairs. He has more than 20 years experience of journalism and the media. He joined the organisation in 2016 and is a keen shooter and beater, with his springer spaniel Quincy.

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