chris packham goshawk chicks

Shooting industry fails to criminalise Chris Packham

Hampshire Police has said that it won’t press charges against Chris Packham. The wildlife presenter’s supposed crime? Sniffing a goshawk chick on the BBC’s The One Show.

Packham appeared on the programme back in August with three ringed chicks in the New Forest. He sniffed one to detect their “characteristic scent or perfume”.

An individual from the shooting industry – who unsurprisingly wants to remain anonymous – made a complaint to the police. He argued that Packham had disturbed the protected species – who were out of their nest – and that he might not have had a licence to film the birds. But the police concluded that the presenter had acted in a “purely instinctive way”, and therefore dropped the investigation. Packham was handling the birds to weigh, sex and ring them in line with a licence issued by the British Trust for Ornithology. The licence states that the birds can be removed from their nests for conservation reasons, such as ringing them, and that they are permitted to be filmed or photographed.

Packham said to The Telegraph:

“The anonymous idiot who made this ludicrous and vindictive complaint should be sorry that even a nanosecond of police time was wasted. Once again the fieldsports community has blasted themselves in the foot trying to put my nose out of joint.”

Gamekeepers murder raptors, not wildlife presenters

When he initially heard that he had been reported to the police, Packham said:

“Raptor persecution is illegal yet every year a huge number of goshawks are killed by gamekeepers … not by scientists or people in the media.”

Indeed, as Protect the Wild regularly reports, goshawks and other raptors are relentlessly targeted by the shooting industry to protect a surplus of birds, such as pheasants, that it wants to shoot for profit. One of the most devastating recent incidents was in January 2023 when the bodies of five young goshawks were discovered, dumped in Forestry England’s King’s Forest near Thetford in Suffolk.

Meanwhile, the shooting industry continues to spout nonsense, arguing that it is instrumental in the conservation of wildlife. This smokescreen enables it to continue to release millions of non-native pheasants into the ecosystem with impunity, as well as poison and trap raptors and mammals that it feels are a threat to its profits.


Chris Packham outside the High Court in London
Chris Packham outside the High Court in London, via The Independent.

Packham continues to be targeted

Packham, meanwhile, is no stranger to being targeted by the shooting industry. A popular family presenter, he is successful in shining a light on shooting-related wildlife crimes. In May 2023, Packham brought a claim of allegations of dishonesty made against him in Country Squire Magazine. He won this libel case, but he lives with a constant threat of violence and intimidation.

Protect the Wild previously reported:

“Packham has faced a torrent of abusive behaviour as a result of his advocacy for animals. In April 2019, unknown persons left dead crows strung up on the gate to Packham’s home. Then, in February 2020, someone left a dead badger at his gate. And most disconcertingly of all, in October 2021, people in masks set fire to a land rover outside his gates, leading to the vehicle exploding.”

Attempts to smear Packham’s name are desperate and, ultimately, have all backfired.

Despite the harassment, he continues to be an advocate for persecuted wildlife, and he does so with courage and integrity. The dropped charges are yet another win for us, and an embarrassing loss to the anti-Packham shooting industry.

  • Watch Protect the Wild’s video A Trail of Lies which was narrated by Chris Packham and reveals the truth about so-called ‘trail hunting’, and his and Megan McCubbin’s ‘Autumnwatch’ replacement series ‘8 out of 10 Bats‘ on YouTube.



Birds of prey are widely persecuted on shooting estates (and on some farms) but all species are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and most (excluding Common Buzzard, Kestrel, and Sparrowhawk) also come under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

This means that NO bird of prey can be shot, poisoned, or trapped, and those on Schedule One (including the (Northern) Goshawk) can not additionally be intentionally or recklessly disturbed while they are nest building, nesting or caring for fledged chicks without a licence.

  • If you’d like to find out more about laws protecting birds of prey please go to our Protectors of the Wild page > Birds of Prey and the Law