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Grouse 2BASC is urging Marks & Spencer not to buckle to celebrity bullying after Chris Packham launched a social media campaign calling on the retailer to stop selling red grouse in its stores.

Packham, a regular presenter for the BBC, has appeared in a YouTube video ahead of the retailer’s AGM this week in which he labels shot grouse as ‘toxic’ and urges viewers to lobby the retailer to abandon the sale of grouse. Packham is promoting the video on his official Twitter account.

M&S has previously said they would continue to stock grouse providing it could be sourced ‘to the highest standards of game and moorland management’.

BASC believes the retailer’s stance is consistent with the association’s own aim of promoting ethical shooting on grouse moors effectively managed for conservation and long-term sustainability.

Duncan Thomas, BASC’s northern director, said: “For Packham to condemn grouse as ‘toxic’ can only be either naïve on his part or deliberately inflammatory. Grouse, when properly prepared for the table, is a healthy, tasty and popular game meat. That’s the reason reputable retailers like M&S put it on their shelves.

“There is always an onslaught from antis in the run up to the ‘Glorious Twelfth’, so we should expect nothing less from the likes of Packham. He abuses his position as a presenter with the BBC to promote an ill-informed, anti-shooting agenda and to support failing petitions.”

BASC chairman Peter Glenser said: “We applaud M&S for standing strong against this cynical, celebrity bullying. Grouse is an ethical food source. As a major presence on the high-street, I’m sure M&S will continue to prefer substance over propaganda.

“Contrary to the claims of the antis, grouse shooting has been proven to have an economic value of around £100 million per year and supports the equivalent of more than 2,500 full-time jobs. And grouse moors support a vast range of wildlife, not just grouse. This is absolutely down to the efforts of gamekeepers and farmers.”

BASC has published an interactive infographic on the benefits of grouse shooting, which shows that up to five times more threatened wading birds are supported on land managed for grouse shooting and 75 per cent of the world’s ecologically sensitive heather moorland is found in the UK because of grouse moor management.

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