Grouse-shooting industry seriously rattled by Chris Packham video

Two days ago, Chris Packham sent a video message to Marks & Spencer about their decision to sell red grouse in their stores this year. If you missed it, here it is again:

Some from within the grouse-shooting community have responded, and they are rattled. Seriously rattled. We’ve read hundreds of messages on social media, almost entirely full of vile, vitriolic, personal abuse, aimed directly at Chris as well as at fellow campaigner Mark Avery.

Today, BASC has issued a public statement about the video – see here. We’ve reproduced it here in case it ‘disappears’:

BASC backs M&S to beat the bullies

BASC 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.


It’s fascinating, isn’t it, that they decide to label Chris as a ‘celebrity bully’ just for asking legitimate, reasonable questions of Marks & Spencer, but say nothing when ‘celeb’ Ian Botham spews unsubstantiated abuse at the RSPB? And isn’t this the same industry that petitioned for the BBC to sack Chris for speaking out about wildlife crime (a move that spectacularly backfired when a counter-petition reached over 80,000 signatures in support of him – see here) – what was that if it wasn’t bullying?

And how, exactly, can politely asking legitimate, reasonable questions of Marks & Spencer’s ethics, be construed as bullying? M&S, quite rightly, takes great pride in its ethics, claiming to have a strong policy on food sourcing, including a ‘named farmer’ scheme and a farm assurance scheme ‘which guarantees high quality food production’ (see here) and high specifications for animal welfare (see here). So when they suddenly become all coy about the details of their supposed ‘industry-leading Code of Practice for game meat’ (here), and refuse to name the estate from which they’re sourcing their grouse, naturally questions are going to be asked. Especially when M&S infers (here) that this ‘industry-leading Code of Practice’ is supported by the RSPB, when actually, it isn’t at all – the RSPB hasn’t even seen it (see here)!

Shot red grouse, sourced from most driven grouse moors, are generally unhealthy, unnatural, and unsustainable (see here). They may contain:

  • Excessive amounts of toxic poisonous lead (over 100 times the lead levels that would be legal for other meat – see here)
  • Unknown quantities of the veterinary drug Flubendazole (see here)
  • Unknown quantities of the veterinary drug Levamisole hydrochloride (also used in chemotherapy treatment for humans with colon cancer – see here)
  • Unknown quantities of the pesticide Permethrin (used topically to treat scabies and pubic lice; probably not that great to ingest – see here)
  • They may also be infected with the disease Cryptosporidiosis (see here).

Now, if M&S can demonstrate that their red grouse have been sourced from a sustainably-managed grouse moor, whose gamekeepers aren’t involved in illegal wildlife persecution or indeed in excessive levels of ‘legal’ persecution, and that they subject their grouse to rigorous testing for the all above chemicals and poisons, then no worries, we’d have no complaints. But so far, M&S has refused to answer any specific questions and won’t even name the source estate. What are they hiding?

And why is the grouse-shooting industry pointing its guns at Chris? Why shoot the messenger? Surely, if they believe that red grouse is healthy, natural and sustainable, they’d be encouraging M&S to be open and transparent about (a) the origin of their grouse and (b) the tests & checks they’ve undertaken to ensure the grouse meet M&S’s usual high standards?

Are they so rattled because they know they can’t provide answers to these questions? Probably, and also because they know that Chris is held in high-regard by the general public as a man of principle, integrity and decency, and so people are more likely to pay attention to his views than those of abusive, foul-mouthed social media trolls.

If you share Chris Packham’s views, and appreciate his willingness to stand up and speak out against the raptor killers, and object to his vilification by the grouse-shooting industry, please sign the e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting HERE. That’s the e-petition that BASC’s Duncan Thomas describes as “failing”. Hmm, 55,000+ signatures so far and rising all the time.

UPDATE 14 July 2016: Grouse-shooting industry further enraged by Chris Packham video here


39 thoughts on “Grouse-shooting industry seriously rattled by Chris Packham video”

  1. Chris deserves huge credit for sticking his head above the parapet on this issue. Let’s make sure we all give him 100% support.

  2. Well done to Chris, for bringing the deplorable anti wildlife game shooting spectacle to the attention of the general public. ‘Driven grouse shooting’ should have been consigned to the history books well over a century ago, then maybe we would have more eagles, red kikes, hen harriers, buzzards, wildcats and pine martins – to name a few – thriving in our countryside, not to mention the desolate uplands.

  3. Well well……..the dark side claiming it is on the receiving end of bullying.

    That is rich from an industry that defends itself by attacking anyone that dares to say anything that it doesn’t agree with and pays Rottweiler lawyers and barristers to defend them.

    Just as many on the dark side choose to deny the killing of wildlife on an industrial scale they will choose to deny the truth surrounding how sustainable and potential risks to human health by consuming red grouse.

    Watch this space …..they will be telling us apples fall upwards next……science will prove them liars.

  4. Thank you Chris, Mark and RPS for highlighting these issues on behalf of 55000++ outraged people, (and the wildlife of course). Thanks too for fronting out the nasty backlash. We’re with you all the way.

  5. I have read some of the bile they have been channeling, but if you scratch at the surface of their internet presence its not just Chris that comes in for attack.

    They are a hardened bunch of homophobic racist bigots who probably deserve a chap on the door from the polis (various shades of hate crime). The police like that sort of investigation, its very trendy, its got its own special unit., not under the direction of the local srgt… you had better start panic deleting- yes you know who you are! (PS….delete all you like, they have the screen grabs to start them off!). Oh what a tangled web we weave……..

    They are not the PAWS partners the RSPB hope for… a lot of their discussion is about campaigning for illegal traps to be legalised etc. Not a hint of progressive thinking….. well thinking at all…..

  6. Brilliant publicity! Lets get these discussions/arguments out of (no disrespect) niche blogs and onto mainstream media.

    Oh and as someone above mentioned over zealous legal and illegal persecution, have a look at the SNH Commissioned Report on the recent range expansion of pine marten. Check the map Fig 8 on page 33, notice where the holes are in the green expansion zone. Draw your own conclusion.

    1. Eh? Grouse and pheasant can manage just fine without humans. Only they’ll find a natural balance rather than artificial explosive populations at the cost of other wildlife

    2. Yes, the exotic introduced pheasant would disapear, it only survives through the annual release of thousands of doomed birds. On the other hand…the red grouse seems to have evolved and thrived on these islands for thousands of years before game keepers decided that they would die without their help. Grouse need the shoots like they need a hole in the head.

      1. I don’t think pheasant would disappear entirely. The UK is not totally different from parts of its natural range in terms of climate and food availability. Its numbers would certainly take a nose dive though.

  7. Keep up the good work Chris Packham I hope those around you choose to stand and support you. Lets wait for some from the shooting industry kicking back………………………….. Persons in high places having discreet words in the ears of employers,certain newspapers choosing to launch personal attacks or threatening lawyers letters.

    I for one admire your bravery, well done.

  8. Maybe I’m tired and missed it but, on two readings, I can find no mention of lead levels in the BASC statement. Wonder why?

  9. ” Celebrity bullying ” ! He he he he. Wonder how many of them it took to think that up? If I was a member of BASC or anybody else involved in shooting, I would be more concerned about the stirling job that M&S are doing in bringing adverse publicity to grouse shooting. Of course the old boys network will fire up now, with more of the general public watching than ever before. Not that that will stop them – too dumb to worry about that no doubt. Wonder if there will be another ” failed ” Packham out petition? Should be good for a laugh. Hats off to Chris Packham, a true man of principle.

  10. Well done Chris Packham, the grouse shooting industry deserve to be seriously rattled, we can only hope they become rattled so much that their despicable blood lust Victorian era so-called ‘Sport’ is banned forever and is consigned to the dustbin of distasteful past history. Let’s hope the recent petition to licence grouse shooting in Scotland comes to fruition and rattles them even more, in any case we’ll carry on with the “Ban Driven Grouse Shooting” petition and continue to blog everywhere about their illegal wildlife persecution and habitat destruction. Hopefully that lot will really piss them off and make them rattled so much they shake their disgusting ‘blood sport’ to it’s final death throws.

  11. What a good man Chris Packham is and he speaks the truth, no wonder they don’t like it , the truth hurts!

  12. So M&S if you tell the truth based on years of knowledge, and you are a “celebrity”, that becomes Celebrity Bullying………………. With thinking like that is it any wonder why your sales are down!


  13. Well done Chris Packam I would believe and support you over M&S and all the shooting fanatics.
    Bullying? No just telling the truth!

  14. Regardless of all the arguments against this, which are all valid, and should be reason enough to end this dated practice, killing 700,000 birds is just not right. If we are a connected planet, by that I mean we all support each other in a complex web of life, then the negative energy of killing by gun, close to a million living creatures cannot be beneficial in the short or long term.

  15. In what sense is he abusing his position as a presenter with the BBC? Since when are BBC presenters disbarred from having opinions and expressing them? They are total hypocrites – if a BBC presenter were to speak in defence of grouse shooting they would be only too pleased. They just think it’s an abuse of position to disagree with them!

  16. It’s a bit much when the shooting industry, inextricably linked to wildlife crime and responsible historically for the decimation and in some cases, the extermination, of various mammal and bird species in the UK, have a go at the one person whom the public overwhelmingly identify as being the champion of all things natural. Go on, shoot yourselves in the foot some more.

    1. Some of them are actually demanding that some of the grouse going for sale is independently tested!….. I doubt that their bosses would ever allow that, too many risks… they don’t like getting caught…. vicarious culpability!

  17. Let me guess the shot grouse were planted…………………just like all the shot ,poisoned, trapped raptors and wildlife that is found on regularly on grouse moors and sporting estates!

    Grubby industry using the same old tactics in an attempt to discredit the truth.

    Hopefully there is at least one decent newspaper that will pick up on this story.

  18. I can’t unsee the mounds of dead mountain hares or the raptors poisoned and trapped. For that reason if M&S do sell Grouse I will no longer shop there. Which I have to say will be a real struggle, as I have enjoyed shopping there for years.
    Well done Chris for putting your head above the parapet so to speak.
    Petition signed.

  19. Excellent words MR Packham. Nearly a Million birds shot for what.
    Keep digging you will find a bottomless pit of lies and more lies.

  20. Thank you Chris for speaking on behalf of 55,000 of us (not to mention those of us who find the practice of driven grouse shoots repugnant but have yet to discover the petition). We’re behind you every step of the way !

  21. Peter glenser does have a point when he sais, ” I’m sure M&S will continue to prefer substance over propaganda”. Lead is a substance. Just not one that’s on my menu although the M&S board and Mr Glenser are free to stuff their little faces with as much of it as they like. The petition has been signed.

  22. It’s obvious Chris Packham is talking sense. He has far more knowledge on the subject & is not blinded by stupid folklore and BS. Well said Chris I salute you.

  23. Yes – sense delivered in an inoffensive manner. I have just tweeted @M&S and had a greater response than ever!
    I engaged for a while trying to put the environmental case – then the responses took a chilling turn including references to Halal and disturbingly – Rotherham ! ( In defence of M&S – who would have thought it.)

  24. Love the way Chris knows where to hurt them, in their pocket. Driven grouse would have gone decades ago if it wasn’t so lucrative.

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