Grouse-shooting industry further enraged by Chris Packham video

When we said the other day (here) that the grouse-shooting industry was seriously rattled by Chris Packham’s video about Marks and Spencer’s decision to sell red grouse, we underestimated their fury.

Here’s the video again, in case you haven’t seen it:

Yesterday, four organisations (BASC, Countryside Alliance, Moorland Association and the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation) united in their efforts to silence Chris by publishing a joint statement calling for the BBC to ‘rein in Packham’.

It’s quite an entertaining statement, full of faux outrage about a perceived breach of BBC impartiality, even though they acknowledge that Chris’s video is a “non-BBC video” and that Chris is “not always directly employed by the BBC“. According to one of the furious complainers (Charles Nodder of the NGO), any public comments made by Chris “are indivisible from the BBC“. Eh? Mr Nodder clearly doesn’t have a very high opinion of the general public if he thinks we can’t distinguish between a personal view of a part-time presenter and that of the BBC!

Calling on the BBC to ‘rein him in’ and demanding that the corporation ‘withdraws support’ for Chris’s supposed “extremist propaganda” is basically a call for the BBC to sack Chris. Haven’t we been here before?

Let’s just be clear. This is less to do with the grouse-shooting industry’s concerns about BBC impartiality but more to do with them wanting to silence an articulate, thoughtful, well-informed and popular ‘celebrity’ to prevent him expressing views on the disgraceful and damaging aspects of driven grouse shooting. These views are obviously the polar opposite of those held by the grouse-shooting industry and thus are labelled by them as ‘extreme’. Gosh, there are a lot of ‘extremists’ in the UK at the moment – over 56,000 so far!

The BBC has responded by issuing the following statement:

Chris Packham is a naturalist in his own right and is not solely employed by the BBC. If Chris Packham wishes to express his personal views outside of his employment on BBC natural history programmes, he is entitled to do so.”

Meanwhile, the grouse-shooting industry’s futile attempts to stick the knife into Chris may well have backfired. Their efforts have been picked up by at least two national newspapers (Telegraphhere; Daily Mailhere), thus giving far more exposure to Chris’s video and the ban driven grouse shooting campaign than we could hope to reach. So cheers to them for that!

In the Telegraph article, it emerges that Iceland Foods stores are not planning to sell red grouse this year. Perhaps they’ve realised that selling meat that contains lead levels 100 times higher than those allowed in other meats isn’t that good for their customers’ health, or for business. Well done to them. Iceland 1: Marks and Spencer 0.

Meanwhile, M&S continues its plan to sell red grouse this year, ignoring the facts that shot red grouse sourced from some driven grouse moors are unhealthy, unnatural and unethical. 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).

It is up to M&S to demonstrate that their red grouse have been ethically sourced from an estate where raptors are not illegally poisoned, trapped or shot, and that their red grouse have been rigorously tested for the above chemicals. So far, they’ve refused to do this, and their friends in the grouse-shooting industry don’t seem to be encouraging them to be open and transparent either. Can’t think why.

If you’d like to encourage M&S to be open and transparent about its policy to sell red grouse this year, please consider sending an email to Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, the man in charge of M&S’s ‘Plan A’ (basically its policy on ethical product sourcing). You might want to ask him the name of the estate from which M&S is sourcing its red grouse, how M&S has ensured that this estate is run ethically, legally and sustainably, and what tests M&S will conduct to ensure the red grouse for sale on its shelves do not contain high levels of toxic lead and other chemicals and pesticides as listed above. Email Patrick at:

You might also want to join Chris Packham and 56,000+ people who have already signed the petition to ban driven grouse shooting – HERE.


40 thoughts on “Grouse-shooting industry further enraged by Chris Packham video”

  1. Is woodpigeon shot using lead shot. These levels of lead measured in grouse would probably be similar in all woodpigeon as well. Woodpigeon often occurs on restaurant menus.
    Am I right in thinking this

    1. Absolutely right – any birds shot with a shotgun would presumably have the same levels, but………..
      I’d be interested to know whether that lead is distributed through muscles and organs evenly or whether it is the result of analysing birds with whole shot in situ. If the latter it’s a false argument since the shot are removed either by the chef of the consumer.

      1. It also depends on the shot being used – many guns use steel shot these days for the very reason the bird is being consumed.

          1. It would be interesting to have some “game dealers” supplied wild duck and geese tested for lead, Has Mark Avery said how much it costs for the lab fees?

      2. The lead shot can be removed, but will the restaurant / chef guarantee no or ‘limited’ toxicity in his game?

        Yorkshire Post Saturday 13 August (the day the BDGS petition reached 100k) page 8 showed a grinning celebrity chef Nick Nairn with grouse he shot, so personal table or for sale and if so the question might be two fold, does he shoot with steel or lead shot? If the latter then will he be able to guarantee ‘safe levels’? mmmhh ….

  2. Still no specific response to the lead levels in grouse as referred to in the video – in fact not a single reference to lead at all in the joint statement. If the figures quoted by Chris Packham are a ‘blatant misrepresentation’, where are their own figures to counter this?

  3. Bravo Chris Packham, The Telegraph and the Daily Mail for highlighting this ecological travesty masquerading as a country sport, and sincere gratitude to RPUK for bring this to our attention.

  4. I would trust Chris Packham’s views and knowledge over those four dodgy organisations any day. We have a brand new M@S Simply foods outlet opening in my home town shortly, as things stand, I wont be shopping there.

  5. Looking good and I would just like give a big thumbs up to the BBC. They get a bashing in so many places, on so many issues, so let’s stand up and say so when they get something right – crisp, clear, concise and impartial. Well done!

  6. Well Done Chris but well done BBC for saying it like it is i.e. what he does in his spare time has nothing to do with them !!!

      1. Bottom of the Mail On Line article, Jack Snipe;

        ‘The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has however maintained that there is ‘strong scientific evidence’ which links intensive grouse moor management with illegal practices that result in fewer protected birds of prey.

        A spokesman said: ‘This illegal persecution of wildlife, when added to the intensification of the management of moorland (more burning, damage to peat areas that capture carbon, and the medication of grouse) is causing a number of serious questions to be posed to the grouse moor managing community and those that sell their products.

        ‘It is up to Marks and Spencer to demonstrate that the grouse that they put on the shelf is safe to eat and that it’s been sourced from moors that are managed in a legal and environmentally sustainable manner.’

  7. Chris Packham for Prime Minister. A man of morals,compassion ,humility and truths. Sadly lacking in UK politics.

    1. Perhaps we need him as Environment minister, rather than the one that has just been appointed! God help our wildlife!

  8. You really have to laugh at some of these organisations. They complain about Chris Packham telling the truth, demanding that he be sacked by the BBC (even though he is not representing the BBC), yet they turn a blind eye to widespread criminality, and are perfectly happy to employ and support known criminals!

    1. The Countryside Alliance uses celebs in the employ of the BBC (e.g. Alexander Armstrong) to promote shooting. BASC Director of Firearms, Bill Harriman, is another happy to take BBC licence-payers’ money (he’s the firearms expert on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow) while also promoting shooting via videos and speaking events. The hypocrisy of these shooting groups in trying to get the BBC to silence Chris Packham is unbelievable (and, I hope, very embarrassing, now more people are aware of it).

  9. So Chris Packham has managed to get the RSPB and the BBC collectively to get a backbone. Well done on so many fronts!

  10. Well said Chris Packham. ALL Hen Harriers, Peregrine Falcons and Eagle Owls have been slaughtered (Forest of Bowlandis my example) in order for the Red Grouse to be minutely more numerous for the toffs to blast and possibly even get ONE MORE KILL to their name. It is as much to do with the slaughter of extremely rare raptors, as anything else. Now I hope that thousands of RSPB members will vote to BAN driven Grouse shooting. Sign the petition guys!

  11. E-mail sent. Thank you RPUK. Thank you Chris Packham. Thank you BBC.
    Everyone e-mail and everyone sign petition. Thanks guys and gals.

  12. Hunting for food (subsistence hunting) is fine with me, as is hunting to maintain the ecology, sustainability and the viability of farms and wildlife areas, However ‘canned” hunting is not acceptable and this includes grouse hunting!
    I have been a vegetarian for 20+ years as, although I love meat, I will not eat it in the UK or any other country if the animal has not been killed ‘ethically’ as I disagree with current farming and hunting methods in the UK, the EU or other countries such as the USA

    1. Animals are not food . That is simply a society conditioning – Go Vegan its a win win for everyone .

  13. Okay, Red Grouse is full of lead shot but there must be more to this story?! I would be reasonably tempted to try Red Grouse on a very occasional basis considering it is not intensively farmed and is ostensibly free range – and might be considered locally produced. Is anyone going to give me better guidance?!

    1. Kind of depends on what you mean by ‘intensively farmed’ and ‘free range’. The stocking densities on a driven grouse moor must be many, many times the level at which the birds would naturally occur and the cavalier administration of medicated grit is something that wouldn’t be allowed in any conventional farming system in the UK.

      But these are secondary arguments. The main argument is that driven grouse shooting is incompatible with the protection of raptors. You can have one or the other but you can’t have both.

  14. Written a very balanced email though emphasised that I will hand in my M&S card if they do this. My purchases are hardly a great deal though every little helps as another shop says!

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