EXCLUSIVE: Chris Packham hits back at critics and insists he is not 'an extremist'

Earlier this year TV presenter Chris Packham was cleared of assault after he was accused of shoving two men who interrupted him filming for a documentary on illegal bird trapping in Malta.

And The Countryside Alliance put pressure on the BBC to sack the wildlife expert for views he expressed in a monthly column about fox hunting and game shooting – claiming he was pursuing “obsessive crusades” – but he has hit back, insisting he is not “an extremist”.

Packham has hit back at claims he is on a ‘crusade’ and insists he is not ‘an extremist’ (PA)

During an exclusive chat with Yahoo Celebrity UK, he said: “I let their comments largely go over my head. The problem with people in that faction when they’re caught out they play the man rather than the issue. If they’re attacking me personally that’s not a solution to the problem. The problem is 86% of people in the UK don’t want fox hunting.”

Chris compared the tradition of fox hunting to slavery, homophobia and racism in BBC Wildlife magazine last month.

But the TV star said he speaks for the “majority” of the population when he fights for animal rights, and it his goal is to make a “positive difference on wildlife”.

BBC presenter Chris Packham compares fox hunting ‘tradition’ to slavery, homophobia and racism

He added: “I’m not an extremist. I represent the majority view. And when I’m talking about the illegal persecution of birds of prey, I’m talking about illegal activity, I’m talking about criminal behaviour.

“So if they attack me to try for saying we have to have the law upheld, then again as I say, playing the man, is their weakness for an inability to deal with the issue. And so as far as I’m concerned, all they do is fuel my determination to make a positive difference on wildlife.”

The Really Wild Show presenters are supporting a campaign to raise awareness of the endangered bird.

The BBC responded to the Countryside Alliance, with Matt Swaine, editor of BBC Wildlife, throwing his full support behind Chris, saying at the time: “Chris Packham is clearly expressing his own views in the column and part of BBC Wildlife magazine’s role is to be a forum for exactly this kind of discussion.

“That’s why we will be giving any named charities a right of reply in the November issue and have invited readers to tell us what they think too.”

Chris has teamed up with New Zealand brand Old Mout Cider and his longtime friend Michaela Strachan to launch a new one-off, wildlife show, entitled, The Kiwi Wild Show, to help save the endangered bird.