Wildlife ‘expert’ Chris Packham is betraying conservation with grouse moor myths

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Press Release

Wildlife commentator Chris Packham today stood accused of betraying conservation with a litany of falsehoods and smears about grouse moors.

Packham appeared on the Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2 today to discuss the alleged disappearance of two satellite-tagged golden eagles in Perthshire.

During the appearance he referred to grouse moors as ‘industrialised landscapes’ where ‘there’s not much else living except grouse’ and said grouse moors were continuing to perpetrate ‘old lies’ about how moorland is managed.

David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, appeared alongside Packham on the programme.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Johnstone said: “Given Chris Packham’s profile as a wildlife presenter, many people will take what he says at face value. Regrettably for someone supposedly committed to conservation he actually betrays the efforts of conservationists who take pride in the scientific rigour of their work.

“To suggest that ‘not much else’ lives on grouse moors except grouse is a ridiculous accusation which he repeats ad nauseum in his pursuit of banning grouse shooting.

“Well established scientific research by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust demonstrates that while managed grouse moors will have less predatory species such as foxes, crows and stoats, this  results in significantly higher numbers and diversity of rare birds such as curlew, lapwing, golden plover, ring ouzel, black grouse than on moorland where those predators are not controlled.

“It is also now clear according to GWCT research that mountain hares also thrive on managed grouse moors to a far greater extent than on unmanaged moors.

“Unmanaged moorland - including some RSPB moorland ‘reserves’ - has comparatively poor levels of birdlife, whereas recent conservation research on estates such as Glenogil in Perthshire has revealed more than 100 different bird and wildlife species.

“Chris Packham is quick to accuse grouse moors of denying the reality of wildlife crime. This is not true. We condemn such behaviour out of hand but Scotland has made huge strides in taking instances of wildlife crime to their lowest ever levels. We should seek to build on that rather than smear and accuse people of crime.

“We reiterate our appeal for information over the two missing eagles in Perthshire and urge anyone with information to contact Police Scotland immediately.”

Listen to the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show here (from 34.30 mins)