'Glorious 12th' protests in London as Chris Packham says bloodsports are as outdated as slavery

Campaigners protesting against the killing of animals for sport took to the streets of London on the first day of the grouse shooting season. Demonstrators marched through central London to Downing Street, calling for an end to badger culling and driven grouse shooting and urging the Government to keep the ban on fox hunting with hounds. Ahead of the protest Springwatch presenter Chris Packham, who joined crowds of people in the capital, condemned such activities as a "dying business", likening the activity to slavery or homophobia.

Those taking part carried banners stating "Kill the Cull" while some wore fox and badger masks. They chanted "Save our badgers, stop the cull", "Save our foxes, keep the ban" and "There's no excuse for animal abuse".

 

Wildlife campaigner Chris Packham has condemned those who support fox hunting as a tradition, likening it to slavery, homophobia and racism. The BBC Springwatch presenter described the activity as "wrong, pure and simple" as he addressed a crowd gathered in London at a protest against killing animals for sport.

Referring to those in favour of repealing restrictions on fox hunting brought in by the Hunting Act 2004, Packham criticised the idea as "out-of-date". He said: "They sometimes say: 'Ah, it's a tradition.' Slavery was a tradition, racism was a tradition, homophobia was a tradition. "We haven't quite got rid of all of them, but we are justifiably trying to get rid of these abhorrent, out-of-date ideas. "The idea that in the 21st century it's appropriate to charge around the countryside tearing animals to pieces with dogs is wrong, pure and simple."

 

The Tories shelved a manifesto pledge to hold a free vote on a Bill in Government time to allow Parliament to decide the future of the Act, which bans the use of dogs to hunt foxes and other wild mammals in England and Wales. Saturday's protest was timed to coincide with "The Glorious 12th" - the 121-day grouse shooting season, which starts on August 12 each year.

 

Campaigners marched through the centre of the capital to Downing Street, calling for an end to badger culling and driven grouse shooting and urging the Government to keep the ban on fox hunting with hounds. Those taking part carried banners stating "Kill the Cull" while some wore fox and badger masks. They chanted "Save our badgers, stop the cull", "Save our foxes, keep the ban" and "There's no excuse for animal abuse".

 

Addressing protesters after the march, Packham was cheered and applauded as he condemned what he described as an "unsustainable and criminal shooting agenda". The naturalist and broadcaster said: "Our wildlife is running out, can we honestly continue to just waste it? To kill it for pleasure. That's the problem, isn't it? See, they say to me that I preach an anti-shooting agenda. "What I am preaching is an anti-unsustainable and criminal shooting agenda. I feel secure and positive and optimistic that, as my T-shirt says, killing wildlife for fun is a dying business." Packham said he was heartened by some of the alternative coverage he had seen on Saturday He said: "In newspapers today, in websites today, it's not all about the Glorious 12th any longer, it's more about the Inglorious 12th."

The outspoken activist drew laughter from those listening as he admitted he interpreted the sometimes negative reaction he gets online for his campaigning as a victory. He said: "One of the ways that I know that we're winning, is that I constantly get abuse on social media.

 

"And I love it because it means that I don't just care. It means that I'm making a difference."