Chris Packham calls on royals to reform Sandringham pheasant shooting

Springwatch presenter Chris Packham calls on Prince William and other royals to reform Sandringham pheasant shooting after protected owl was killed in trap on Queen’s estate

  • Little owl was seen dead inside a Fenn trap on 20,000-acre Norfolk estate in May
  • Chris Packham said its ‘disappointing’ that the owl died in Sandringham 
  • Said family ‘can’t proselytise about conservation and […] have this happening’
  • Prince William was appointed patron of British Trust for Ornithology in October

Springwatch presenter Chris Packham has called on the royal family to reform pheasant shooting after a protected owl was killed in a trap in Sandringham.

A little owl – a rare species of the bird – was seen dead inside a Fenn trap on the 20,000-acre Norfolk estate in May.

Fenn traps – which are set at ground level to catch and kill rats that eat pheasant and partridge eggs – are completely legal. 

Mr Packham urged the Queen to take action, claiming its ‘disappointing’ that the owl died in Sandringham as the family should be setting an example. 

A little owl – a rare species of the bird – was seen dead inside a Fenn trap (pictured) on the 20,000-acre Norfolk estate in May

Prince William was appointed patron of the British Trust for Ornithology in October – after taking over from his grandfather The Duke of Edinburgh. Pictured: Prince William shooting in Sandringham in 2008

Springwatch presenter Chris Packham has called on the royal family to reform pheasant shooting rules after the owl was killed

He told The Times: ‘You can’t proselytise about conservation and the environment and then have this happening in your own backyard.’

Prince William was appointed patron of the British Trust for Ornithology in October – after taking over from his grandfather The Duke of Edinburgh.  

While Mr Packham pointed out that trapping and killing animals who would otherwise harm shooting interests is legal in Britain, he said the Queen should consider if this is ethically sound.

He added: ‘I would love to see the royal family saying we are not going to do snaring on our land, we are not going to do trapping.’

Representatives from the National Anti-Snaring Campaign said Fenn traps were numbered in the ‘dozens’ on the estate. 

Around 5,700 breeding pairs of little owls are present in the UK – with the birds’ numbers dropping by around 24 per cent between 1995 and 2008, The Royal Society for Protection of Birds reports.

Mr Packham (pictured) said: ‘You can’t proselytise about conservation and the environment and then have this happening in your own backyard’

Every year, the royal family take part in a Boxing Day pheasant shoot at Sandringham.

But this year, due to Covid-19, both the Queen and Prince Philip will spend Christmas in Windsor Castle. 

Prince William still enjoys shooting – even bringing seven-year-old Prince George to a Balmoral grouse shoot in August.

But Prince Harry has become less interested since marrying animal-lover Meghan Markle.

In May it was revealed that the Duke of Sussex sold a pair of handmade hunting rifles in a bid to please his wife. 

A hunter bought a pair of Purdey firearms, thought to be worth around £50,000, in a private deal, before the couple quit the UK for Canada and later moved to the US, The Sun reports. 

A friend of the anonymous buyer said: ‘He bought them because he wanted them, not because they belonged to Harry, but he was quite chuffed when he found out. 

‘They are beautiful examples and he’s very pleased with them but he’s not the sort of person who wants to boast about the royal connection.’ 

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