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New Forest’s Chris Packham cleared by Hampshire police after sniffing goshawk chick during the filming of the BBC’s The One Show

NEW Forest TV naturalist Chris Packham has been cleared by police after being investigated for sniffing a goshawk chick during the filming of a BBC show.

Mr Packham (62) was the subject of a criminal investigation into his actions on The One Show when he raised the tiny bird to his nose and smelt it.

He had promised viewers on social media that he aimed to “get up close and very personal” with the goshawk chicks who were filmed at their nest in the Forest.

Chris smelt the goshawk during the filming of The One Show (Picture: Forestry England)
Chris smelt the goshawk during the filming of The One Show (Picture: Forestry England)

But it proved too close for one viewer who subsequently complained to police that the environmental campaigner had broken the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Under the act, fully licensed bird handlers are allowed to touch the birds, but only for scientific reasons.

But although Mr Packham is not believed to be licensed, Hampshire police have now dropped the probe.

The TV star had claimed he had only smelt the birds as they were being ringed and sexed, “instinctively” and only to capture their “characteristic scent”.

Mr Packham had told The One Show about the success of an initiative to encourage breeding pairs of Goshawks to return to the Forest after a 120-year absence.

The chicks were among the first to be born under it, and the segment of the programme was filmed with the help of a Forestry England team.

The wildlife experts closely monitor goshawk numbers and breeding in the Forest, spending hundreds of hours observing pairing behaviour and monitoring nests.

Before the chicks fledge, they are measured and weighed to assess their health and whether the Forest offers the right conditions to sustain the population.

Speaking at the time of the incident in June, Chris posted a video online saying he had done nothing wrong, adding: “When it comes to goshawks’ welfare we ought to worry a little less about naturalists having a sniff occasionally and [more about] the widespread persecution of these species, which is restricting its range expansion in the UK. Just saying.”

A Hampshire police spokesman said: “The footage has been viewed and no criminal offence was identified. The investigation has been filed.

“Any issues relating to an alleged breach of licence would be dealt with by the organisation who issued that licence, not the police.”

The BBC has always insisted that protocols were followed during the filming at all times.

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