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Wildlife expert Chris Packham at centre of police probe for sniffing a goshawk as part of BBC’s The One Show segment on the successful return of the species to the New Forest

NEW Forest-based naturalist Chris Packham has been reported to police for sniffing a goshawk chick live on television as he highlighted the success of the species breeding in the area.

As reported in the A&T, the segment on BBC’s The One Show in June saw Chris meet with the Forestry England team behind the initiative to monitor breeding pairs, which had been absent from the Forest for more than 120 years.

Chris Packham admires a goshawk chick (picture: Forestry England)
Chris Packham admires a goshawk chick (picture: Forestry England)

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

Before the chicks fledge, the team ring, measure and weigh them to assess their health and whether the Forest offers the right conditions to sustain the population.

Rings recovered from the birds provide a picture of where the population is spreading to beyond the area.

Holding a chick to his face Chris explained how goshawks have “a characteristic scent, or perfume”, but one viewer took exception to the environmental activist handling the bird.

Chris sniffs a goshawk during filming (photo: Forestry England)
Chris sniffs a goshawk during filming (photo: Forestry England)

They contacted police, claiming that Chris had violated an act which makes it illegal to disturb the rare woodland predators.

Commenting on social media one person asked: “Is smelling chicks really necessary? Surely getting them ringed and back to the nest quickly should be priority.”

Hampshire police confirmed they had received a complaint and added: "We received a report on 2nd July relating to an alleged offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and it is currently being reviewed by our Countrywatch team."

Mr Packham has denied having done anything wrong or illegal and in a video posted to his Twitter feed said: “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 spokesperson for the BBC added: “The One Show had permission to film and followed all protocols around filming wildlife.”

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