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Winterwatch presenters ‘demonstrate dangerous levels of ignorance’ on wildlife and nature

The latest series of Winterwatch, filmed at Norfolk’s Ken Hill Estate, is over and it is fair to say once again our friend Chris Packham has stirred up a predictable amount of peculiarities.

Firstly, there were the reports of the Winterwatch production team banning any sort of vermin control on or and around the estate for the duration of the filming.

Suggestions were that this was a security measure, to eliminate the risk of anything going wrong, which seems very strange and, if true, an extraordinary acknowledgement of just how out of touch the BBC’s production team are.

As is now almost universally recognised, in order for biodiversity to recover certain species, such as deer, must be managed. Even Packham has conceded this, previously saying ‘we have no choice’ but to manage deer in the UK.’

According to one reported source, ‘estate staff felt like there were being forced to needlessly sit on their hands at an important time of year for vermin control’.

But the greatest wrath for Packham actually came from his comments about a rat, who he called Ray, being “ripped apart” by a barn owl. The comments led to a string of comments online and an outpouring of public sympathy towards the rat.

Yes, you read that correctly. If anyone is still unclear about the dangerous influence that Packham has through his BBC platform, the fact that he can trivialise the realities of conservation and wildlife to whether or not a barn owl is able to catch a rat or not is a sad indictment of where we have arrived and why sensible debate on essential management practices has become so difficult to have.

Wildlife, nature and conservation is not Disneyland viewing, as Packham and Winterwatch seem to attempt to push and their efforts to present it as such do a disservice to all who genuinely care about nature in this country and the wildlife itself.

The spectacular ignorance of the Winterwatch team however was best summarised in the segment filmed in the Isle of Mull with Iolo Williams.

In one segment, the presenter lamented how there was only one ptarmigan left in the Isle of Mull. Yet, in the very next section, the same presenters celebrated how great it was that there was an abundance of raptors, including White Tailed Sea Eagles, now inhabiting the Isle.

Well, I think that explains why there are now no ptarmigan left. Seriously, what does it take for these people to realise that nature is not a theme park and the prioritisation of one – increasingly common – species can have an irreversibly tragic effect on some of the rarest ground-nesting birds. As one viewer commented at the time, ‘I mean it is beggars’ belief – they simply don’t understand the consequences of these increased numbers of raptors in what is a very delicate habitat.’

What did make us chuckle though, and what I’m sure most viewers will not have noticed though was that Packham, rather ironically, filmed the series sporting a pair of shooting gloves. That rather sums him up, doesn’t it?


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