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Chris Packham: Those who attack me ‘picking on the wrong guy in the wrong way’

The environmentalist said aggression he has faced over his campaigning ‘fuels’ him.

Chris Packham has recently demonstrated against HS2 (Giles Anderson/PA)
Chris Packham has recently demonstrated against HS2 (Giles Anderson/PA)

By Emily Beament, PA Environment Correspondent

Chris Packham has said people who attack him for his environmental campaigning “are picking on the wrong guy in the wrong way”.

The BBC Springwatch presenter’s backing for a successful legal action challenging licences for shooting wild birds led to a petition against him, dead crows left hanging outside his home and death threats.

He has also faced criticism for his campaigning against the game shooting industry, including another legal challenge by Wild Justice – which he co-founded – over the release of game birds, and the plight of hen harriers.

But Mr Packham, who has Asperger’s syndrome, has told the PA news agency that the aggression he has experienced “fuels me”.

“It never makes me angry, depressed, worried, it makes me think they’re doing these things because they’re being backed into a corner and lashing out.

“I’m interested in getting results, I will plough on regardless.”

He described the current climate as “an age of bullying” but said he was inured to it, and what people did would not make a difference.

Ahead of a talk in Harrogate later this month, the naturalist also said he was keen for young people with Asperger’s to focus on its positive attributes and for people more widely to understand the condition.

We have to tell the truth and we can’t hold back and we’re not frightened of the consequences Chris Packham on Asperger's syndrome

Teenage activist Greta Thunberg, whose protests outside the Swedish parliament have sparked a global climate strike movement and led her to speak at the UN, has said her Asperger’s makes her different, but that being different can be a “superpower”.

Mr Packham said: “The point is Greta has garnered the ears of the world, and I’m positive that wouldn’t have happened without our Asperger’s.

“The thing is for us, we have to tell the truth and we can’t hold back and we’re not frightened of the consequences.”

The naturalist said he had seen some positive changes for the environment since he organised a “people’s walk for wildlife” a year ago, including the call for urgent action by the youth climate strikers and Extinction Rebellion.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

Recent conservation successes in the UK include white storks breeding for the first time in centuries at Knepp estate in Sussex, and the reintroduction of white-tailed eagles on the Isle of Wight and ospreys in Poole Harbour.

But with a major new State of Nature report revealing no let up in UK wildlife losses, he warned: “We are running out of time – when you look at some of the declines we’ve got, the consequence is there’s an obvious urgency.”

Amid uncertainty over green regulations after Brexit and the environmental land management payments that are set to replace EU farm subsidies, Mr Packham said wildlife campaigners would find solutions within any future framework.

However, he said that the most dispiriting thing about the “Brexit scenario” is that it has “cost so much time, effort and money when other things haven’t been attended to, from health and education to the environment”.

He added: “Big issues such as the environment haven’t been addressed with the same degree of importance.”

Chris Packham organised the People’s Walk for Wildlife last year (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Mr Packham said he would like to see fox hunting completely banned, and that more action was needed across the board on tackling climate change.

He said broadcasters were slowly changing to make programmes that were more honest about environmental problems, and the need for society to change its behaviour.

And while the reaction of some politicians to the youth climate strikers showed they did not “get it”,  he said that when the “youth have more authority and intelligence and eloquence, it makes me feel the people who are governing aren’t going to be there long”.

:: Chris Packham will be speaking about subjects including wildlife, campaigning and Asperger’s at the Royal Hall in Harrogate on October 19 at 7pm.



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