BBC presenter Chris Packham gets it wildly wrong

By Andrew Gilruth, GWCT Director of Communications

There has been a good deal of fuss caused by the unpleasant comments about farmers, landowners and people who shoot and fish made by the regular BBC presenter Chris Packham. Last night he posted an online message that was so wildly wrong even Donald Trump would blush.

What did he say?

To drum up support for an e-petition he stated that lapwing are shot. They are not.

What is going on?

Last September Packham started an e-petition on the government website to secure a moratorium on the shooting of wader birds. The GWCT pointed out that some of the language and figures he used were misleading and why we feel that a national moratorium is the wrong approach. Defra subsequently gave a written response along similar lines here.

These government e-petitions only stay open for six months. After the first three months this one has clocked up about 20% of the signatures required to be considered for a debate in parliament. Whilst urging people to support this petition, BBC presenter Chris Packham has made his most outrageous claim: lapwing are shot. They are not.

The tweet (below) was ‘retweeted’ over 250 times, and no doubt some believed this false information and signed the petition. At time of writing, nearly 24 hours later, Chris Packham has yet to delete the tweet or delete the incorrect statement from another website he is using to promote the petition.

Packham Lapwing Tweet

GWCT lapwing conservation

If you are more interested in recovering the lapwing population than just banning things, do get behind GWCT projects such as this lowland work to recover lapwing numbers along the Hampshire Avon. In other studies, the GWCT has demonstrated how lapwing thrive on driven grouse moors and they remain one of the few places where the birds continue to thrive.  Perhaps of more importance, we have estimated that, should gamekeepers stop predator control on driven grouse moors, lapwing would decline by 81% over 10 years.

BBC impartiality

Everyone knows that the BBC is supposed to be impartial and most still assume it is. However, a BBC-commissioned report in 2014 recognised that it is seen by many as institutionally biased against the countryside. Last year our Chairman, Ian Coghill, observed that we might expect this “from an organisation so long divorced from country life that it thinks The Archers is real, probably because it’s made in Birmingham, which from a London perspective is practically a village.”

Most of the land surface of Great Britain is owned, managed and farmed by people who have no problem with traditional country sports, and an extraordinarily high percentage actually engaging in them. We might assume that, when a regular presenter on countryside and wildlife issues makes such inaccurate remarks, the BBC would at least ask him to show restraint. But don’t hold your breath.

It took the BBC a full 12 months to address the GWCT complaint about impartiality. We thanked the BBC Trust for making it clear where it and the BBC stands. In the words of Ian Coghill, “It turns out to be where we always thought but until now were never really able to confirm: as far away from the real countryside as they can get.”

Should you like to raise your concerns to the BBC you can do so here.

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at 16:56 on 28/02/2017 by DEBRA

Chris Packham is one in a million his commitment to conservation and the protection of wildlife is admired by millions of people around the world, i wish we had a few more like him he is unique in many ways a loyal kind hard working and extremely knowledgeable man i think he is awesome!! We should all support his passion for the protection of wildlife as i indeed do, and always will. I am proud of chris Packham, Debra.

Non-shooters aren't stupid.

at 10:17 on 17/01/2017 by Rob A

to suggest that everyone who signed Packham's petition is too stupid to know better - that is what is being implied - is wrong and quite arrogant. Shooters need to wake up and realise that people who don't shoot aren't all countryside illiterate, and that shooters know what's best. All the information is out there, for anyone to find out. It's simple. It's been suggested on here that Packham is politically motivated - not true. I think you'll even find that he doesn't manage his social media accounts. His FB page is over run with insults and general nastiness from the shooting fraternity.that hasn't been deleted, either. He is as passionate about nature, as shooters are for their sport.

Chris Packham

at 12:08 on 16/01/2017 by Roger Ashby

Chris Packham is appealing to the vast majority of the urban ignorant who have no direct connection with the countryside and believe all the problems are caused by the farmers and land managers. So they respond to any petition out of a sense of guilt as they know indirectly they have a detrimental affect on the countryside. They put their rubbish out, pull the chain and think that is the end of their responsibility and they must have every latest gadget with no regard as to what happens with the old ones. Mr Packham why don't you go on about rubbish, recycling, the imbalance of over protected species? perhaps because you would loose popular support and that would n't help you career! Get your facts right please.


at 11:36 on 16/01/2017 by Simon Scott-Priestley

As usual Chris Packham is spouting his usual tripe regarding wildlife and conservation. He might well have admitted, on this occasion, that he is wrong in asserting that lapwing are being shot, but why has he not immediately removed his social media assertions? No doubt to continue his campaign against the shooting fraternity. He would be better employed going after the poachers, coursers, magpies, carrion crows, and understanding the need to keep badgers, foxes, and other raptor numbers under control. This would have a far greater beneficial effect on wader and songbird numbers.


at 20:50 on 15/01/2017 by Peter Lloyd

Ian do you really believe 123,000 people understood all the issues surrounding driven grouse shooting before tapping the screen and moving on. Iain this was not "a bit of a blunder" the guy is supposed to be an expert in these matters but has clearly demonstrated that this is not the case. Did he do it deliberately knowing that "signatures" added to a petition can,t be removed? As far as hen harriers are concerned which came first the HH or the grouse moor. Many grouse moors are sssi because they are grouse moors. I can show you some unshot moorland in Mid Wales which holds a few grouse but you would be extremely lucky to see an HH or much else for that matter!

Re: To err is human....

at 14:41 on 11/01/2017 by Rob - GWCT

Chris Packham 'has acknowledged his mistake'. But he hasn't deleted the incorrect tweet.

To err is human....

at 14:16 on 11/01/2017 by Ian Whittaker

Chris Packham got it wrong. He has acknowledged his mistake. To suggest that this somehow undermines his credibility as a knowledgeable, passionate, sincere advocate of wildlife conservation is ludicrous. Certainly, the point about his campaign in relation to the continued shooting of endangered waders, particularly woodcock and snipe, still shines through the indignant smokescreen created around his error on lapwings. Equally ludicrous is to suggest that those who support his point of view will somehow be “hoodwinked” by this mistake and are illiterate on the issues. A similar and equally unfounded claim was made about the 123,000 people who signed the petition to ban driven grouse shooting. Simply because someone holds an opposing point of view is not grounds for claiming they know nothing about the subject matter. That is definitely the Donald Trump approach. I think that making a mistake but then correcting it is far less to be concerned about than evasion, cover up and disingenuity - from either side of the debate. We only have to look at the claims made by the Moorland Association, the Countryside Alliance and others about hen harrier breeding success in England in 2015 which proved to be less than truthful. More recently, we can look at the Hen Harrier Action Plan which these organisations, as well as the GWCT, have pushed as the saviour of the Hen Harrier. One of the Plan’s key elements was diversionary feeding of hen harriers. On the basis that actions speak louder than words or tweets, not one application covering any English grouse moor (175+?) was submitted for a licence for diversionary feeding for the 2016 season and as at November 2016, none had been made for 2017. Of course, I’d be delighted to hear about what other efforts are being made on these grouse moors to encourage hen harrier breeding success under the action plan. Unfortunately, GWCT chose not to respond to a request to re-tweet these facts to encourage its members and others in implementation of a key part of the Action Plan. But it was quite happy to enter a tweeting frenzy about Chris Packham’s mistake. Draw your own conclusions about who is serious about true conservation and bio-diversity but even better, let’s wait until we see the outcome of the 2017 hen harrier breeding season on the English uplands. And before I am accused of being some left wing, townie, anti-shooting eco-zealot, I am none of these things. And yes, grouse moors can be good for waders!

Lapwings & Red Kites

at 11:04 on 11/01/2017 by Mary Plank

Two years ago I checked a flock of ewes daily on some low lying water meadows which had been in a stewardship scheme for some time. I delighted in watching the Lapwings nesting until I realized that the ever present Red Kites were picking off their chicks, The lapwings did their best to defend their broods but to no avail they were all lost. Maybe the Red Kite has something to do with the decline in Lapwings. The Lapwings have not returned.

To Mr Packham

at 10:46 on 11/01/2017 by Tom Cook

Well done Chris Packham for spotting Lapwing shooting. Please Mr Packham report your evidence to the authorities without further delay so that the criminals can be prosecuted. In 70 odd years shooting on various continents, I have never seen or heard of a Lapwing being shot. Tom Cook

Re: Packham

at 8:55 on 11/01/2017 by Rob - GWCT

We have asked Chris Packham on several occasions to delete the incorrect tweet. You can see our tweets on the subject here: https://twitter.com/search?f=tweets&vertical=default&q=from%3Agameandwildlife%20%40chrisgpackham&src=typd&lang=en


at 8:48 on 11/01/2017 by Julian FULLER

We are all annoyed by this - but what are GWCT actually doing about it? It needs a counter tweet or a reply to him directly from you. Don't bother expecting the BBC to do anything. They won't

Chris Packham and the BBC

at 22:56 on 10/01/2017 by Iain Gibson

There are some almost unbelieveable contradictions in the comments expressed so far. Give the guy a break! Admittedly he does appear to have made a bit of a blunder in this instance, but if this is worthy of shouting from the hilltops then he's done not too badly overall. Anyone can make the odd mistake. Conservationists could also complain about the BBC NOT allowing Chris to express "controversial" views in his role as a presenter. It is simply untrue to suggest that his campaign against shooting is given airplay on the BBC, and repeated statements from the corporation have stated that the right to free speech is afforded to him in his own time. I'm afraid it's very obvious that the shooting community just can't bear criticism, and is prepared to set aside other's democratic rights to pursue their activities without interference. You continue to use the euphemism "country sports" to mask the reality of a violent hobby which produces an abhorrent reaction from the majority of UK citizens, while exaggerating the acceptance of exploiting wildlife by the majority of country dwellers. On the subject of untruths, you really need to get your own house in order. The statement that Lapwings thrive on driven grouse moors is one of the biggest untruths of them all, and I say that as a professional Ecologist specialising in birds of heather moorland. Not that I expect many of your readers will respect the views of a "so-called expert" who contradicts their own point of view. The truth is that Lapwings do relatively well on marginal hill land irrespective of whether they are adjacent to grouse moor. They actually avoid any form of shrub vegetation, including dwarf shrub heath which constitutes most grouse moors. Your oversimplification of the ecological problems facing Lapwings does no service to the cause of nature conservation in general.


at 18:11 on 10/01/2017 by David Luke

Chris Packham the mans now deluded from the reality on countryside matters, never in my 65 years have I ever heard of a Lapwing being shot.

Chris Packham

at 17:19 on 10/01/2017 by Robin Loweth

It is nothing short of a disgrace that the BBC allow Chris Packham to make his biased views known on air; if he had even a clue, he would know that Lapwings are not shot, but are helped through conservation. I have shot for 60 years and have never heard of one being shot. BBC, come to your senses if you want to retain the moral high ground.


at 16:20 on 10/01/2017 by Karl Pipes

An E-petition is required, why should we be expected to listen to such claptrap from such a biased person via a medium we have to fund? If he knows the law is being broken he should give his evidence to the police, otherwise he is concealing an alleged crime.


at 15:30 on 10/01/2017 by Colin Crabbe

I have been shooting for about 50 years in different parts of the world and have never seen or heard of a lapwing being shot! Wish Packham would get his facts correct! He is after all a paid journalist with 'expertise' in many fields and covers multiple subjects for the BBC of which wildlife is but one of these!


at 15:05 on 10/01/2017 by Nick Yeatman-Biggs

As joint runner up in the first Farming and advisory Group award some fifty odd years ago, and a retired farmer and conservationist who is still planting trees for future naturalists to enjoy, I can only pray fervently that Packham has no part to play in dictating the future of the management of the English countryside. I remember when, aged 15, I sat enraptured one night near the only badger's sett on this farm. On this same farm there are now at least 12 setts, and the damage caused by badgers is huge.


at 14:27 on 10/01/2017 by Frank Stevens

What the BBC needs is a presenter like Fred Dinage & a subject like "Out of Town" as featured by Jack Hargreaves. Jack is sorely missed and his shoes are nowhere near filled by Packham (Jack would be violently sick at the thought!) or, sadly, by "Country File Journalists." Julia Bradbury showed a spark, but she concentrates on walking now, not on 'Sporting Subjects of Nature.' Country File needs a resident 'Keeper commentator to balance it up. Humble & double- barrel- Games do not make a counterpoise to Packham.


at 13:52 on 10/01/2017 by Derek R Hampshire

Dear Sirs. Well its no news that Packham is just an "Anti anything" to do with real country people, It would be really good to for him to see a farmer noting where Lapwings are nesting and then marking these points so that they are avoided by ring rollers and spray. For him to say that Lapwings are being shot is just plain stupidity and the statement underlines the fact that he is in not in touch with the country side or the people within it. I would really love him to show his face at a CA public meeting, it just goes to show how biased the BBC has become , lots of townies in total ignorance of country life. If Packham really wants to help wildlife get him to stop poachers. and to help the rest of us maintain the countryside..

Chris Packham

at 12:56 on 10/01/2017 by Ken Rush

I don't suppose Chris Packham will retract his statement on his next "Watch" programme which I suppose will be in the spring. A series which as far as this licence payer is concerned is a complete waste of money. I also suppose the BBC won't exert any pressure on him, after all he isn't an employee of the corporation!!

Packham and Lapwings

at 12:43 on 10/01/2017 by Mike Lawford

I have been shooting regularly for over 50 years and have never seen a lapwing in the bag. In fact, just before Christmas I saw a wonderful flock, while we were shooting on a well managed Estate near Cambridge

Packham and Lapwings

at 12:43 on 10/01/2017 by Mike Lawford

I have been shooting regularly for over 50 years and have never seen a lapwing in the bag. In fact, just before Christmas I saw a wonderful flock, while we were shooting on a well managed Estate near Cambridge


at 12:29 on 10/01/2017 by Jonathan Cox

I cannot believe that Chris Packham has stated that Lapwings are shot. I have shot for over 30 years and never heard of them being shot. The places that this bird is doing well and increasing is on shooting estates whether it be on low ground or moorland fringes where predators are controlled.

Shooting of Lapwings

at 12:22 on 10/01/2017 by Piers Austin

This man is a dangerous fraud. One of the major causes of the decline of ground nesting birds as well as hedgehogs and bumble bees is the overpopulation of predatory badgers, which are contributing to the harbouring and spread of bovine TB as well. We all know this but the politicians and wildlife experts are afraid to admit it! A real tragedy for the countryside, wildlife and livestock farming. QED

Chris Packham on :apwings

at 12:18 on 10/01/2017 by Desmond Gunner

If Chris Packham's comment was not so outgadeous it would be laughable. He would be much better employed campaigning against the Predators of Ground Nesting Bird's Eggs and Fletchlings. He is well aware of the predation by Badgers, having shown one eating dozens of Terns Nests contents on one night, but the only response was to fence off the nesting site. No investigation of where the Badger goes now for his supper. Since Badgers have been protected they have increased manyfold and the decline in many Ground Nesting Birds has also greatly increased, but the Bird Charities ignore this possibility as the Badger is too well loved by their members. It is no longer an endangered species and its protection is no longer justified.


at 12:11 on 10/01/2017 by John E G Nayler

Complain to the BBC. Below is the text of my complaint sent today: Complaint title Chris Packham's inaccurate posts. (Lies) Complaint description I have always admired the BBC in almost everything it does BUT it must be time for the BBC to axe Chris Packham following his lies about Lapwing being shot. It is time to distance yourselves from this man. To suggest he is not an employee, as you have done in the past, is plain nonsense. Note: complaining has never been in my nature but this fellow is not worthy of any exposure.

Wildlife concerns

at 12:09 on 10/01/2017 by Mark H Farmer

Agree with comment about poaching, anti everything countryside supporters could do well to throw their weight and support to stop wildlife crime perpetrated by organised gangs who fear no one, have absolutely no respect for the countryside, people, or wildlife. Put your money where your mouth is Mr Packham and start campaigning against these people.


at 12:09 on 10/01/2017 by Ken Isaac

This man is a scurrilous repetitive liar. How the BBC can still employ him beggars belief. Oh I forgot, as they informed the Countryside Alliance, "he is not a regular employee only an occasional presenter. Packham presenting once a year is one occasion too many!!! Especially spouting such misinformed information and lies.


at 12:06 on 10/01/2017 by paul mallen

I don't believe Packham is a conservationist, I believe he is a calculating, rabid anti shooting campaigner hiding behind the façade of a wildlife conservationist, using misinformation and typical extremist left wing "end justifies the means" tactics to further his anti shooting agenda.

Packham and Lapwings.

at 12:00 on 10/01/2017 by jamie bayley

Unfortunately Chris Packham has the advantage of access to millions of viewers through the BBC and his remarks seem to be unedited. Our only hope is to support agencies such as GWCT ,BASC,and Countryside Alliance. Diligent lobbying of MP's and protesting direct to the BBC will also help. On our small shoot Lapwing numbers are very robust and increasing . We have never shot them and have no intention of so doing .We do however farm to support them and control predators.Legally!

Chris Packham

at 11:53 on 10/01/2017 by Chris

The BBC Boards trustees all say in their Bio that the BBC is one of the worlds most trusted brands and that they are essentially protecting that good name. Mr Packham is tarnishing not only the 'Brand' but the credibility of the Board at the same time; unchallenged this looks like support from the BBC.


at 11:46 on 10/01/2017 by jackie

He pretends he is a country person & knows everything about the country & wildlife but he has not a clue, he is not in the real world. He is a typical BIAS BBC presenter. Why do people like that not leave the country folk WHO know more than any of them put together. to look after the countryside & its wildlife, makes me so angry

chris Packham

at 11:38 on 10/01/2017 by An Ideal Office

Type of complaint General BBC Complaint category Factual error or inaccuracy Contacted us before No Complaint title the presenter Chris packham Complaint description The presenter is tweeting and broadcasting inaccurate information regarding the countryside managers. all of the UK's wildlife is managed to some degree, by landowners and managers such as farmers and river and shoot keepers. They do not shoot Lapwings, quite the opposite, they are striving to increase the population by expensive habitat provision, paid for by conservationist, shooters, fishermen, stalkers etc. look at the Game conservancy for what is really happening. Wildlife thrives around well managed shoots and rivers, go to the city and observe how the wildlife is cared for...

Chris Packham

at 11:38 on 10/01/2017 by Steve Rowlands

Best of luck making a complaint to the BBC. I have just wasted 15 minutes of my life trying. The dice is loaded against you.

chris Packham

at 11:31 on 10/01/2017 by An Ideal Office

Type of complaint General BBC Complaint category Factual error or inaccuracy Contacted us before No Complaint title the presenter Chris packham Complaint description The presenter is tweeting and broadcasting inaccurate information regarding the countryside managers. all of the UK's wildlife is managed to some degree, by landowners and managers such as farmers and river and shoot keepers. They do not shoot Lapwings, quite the opposite, they are striving to increase the population by expensive habitat provision, paid for by conservationist, shooters, fishermen, stalkers etc. look at the Game conservancy for what is really happening. Wildlife thrives around well managed shoots and rivers, go to the city and observe how the wildlife is cared for...

BBC impartiality

at 11:22 on 10/01/2017 by Moira Scott

Can gwct and basic and country side alliance create an e petition to force a parialnentary debate on this point. It's correct and not right that the BBC gets a free ride on license fee and turns a deaf ear to complaints of bias.


at 11:17 on 10/01/2017 by Peter Bedford

Can Packham actually produce evidence that lapwings are being shot, or is it simply a case of arranging the facts to fit the story?

Chris Packham

at 7:26 on 10/01/2017 by Margaret rushforth

Why is Chris packham allowed to say untruths about birds. I am a shooter. And I go shooting. And the clubs I'm in go out of there way to ensure the wildlife is helped. Not culled. I've been round many game keepers and they are a necessity. You'd be more of a hand helping get rid of poachers. I've seen some horrific sights of animals been killed by them and it's getting worse .


at 18:53 on 09/01/2017 by Phillip Ellis

This man has not got a clue about country matters.

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