AN OUTSPOKEN TV presenter from Hampshire has received online threats after he urged people to support a ban on grouse hunting.

Hampshire Constabulary have confirmed it hasthey have launched an investigation after naturalist Chris Packham received the threats on social media site Twitter.

It comes as the Springwatch presenter was criticised by England cricket legend Sir Ian Botham about his comments on the start of the grouse hunting season.

Mr Packham, who lives in the New Forest, has called on supermarkets not to stock red grouse this year and is urging them to back a petition banning driven grouse shooting.

A petition calling for a ban on driven grouse shooting backed by Mr Packham says the “intensive” habitat management needed for grouse shooting leads to increased flood risk and greenhouse gas emissions and leads to the killing of other animals such as birds of prey, foxes, stoats and mountain hares.

Hampshire Constabulary says it has received reports of threats made to Mr Packham on Twitter on August 1, although it has not confirmed the exact nature of the alleged threats.

The 55-year-old’s agency, David Foster Management, released a statement on his behalf after the reports. It said: “We wish to point out that any threats to our client, Chris Packham, will be taken very seriously.

"Chris strenuously opposes intimidation, threats or violence of any kind, entirely regardless of a person’s view of stance on animal welfare and conservation issues.

"Chris’s approach is to research, reveal and report the facts and to promote change through entirely peaceful, democratic means.”

It added: “We ask on Chris’s behalf that his supporters treat everyone, regardless of their stance, with respect – both online and face to face – and respect their privacy and security.

"In turn we sincerely hope that those who support differing views will follow this example.”

Mr Packham is an outspoken animal rights campaigner and has been attacked by some countryside figures who have called for his sacking from the BBC.

The organisation has confirmed it is investigating a complaint made against Mr Packham earlier this year, although it refused to provide details of the complaint.

Pro-hunting campaigners claimed he breached the BBC’s rules on impartiality, and ahead of the start of the grouse season on Friday former cricketer Sir Ian Botham has also waded into the row.

Sir Ian, who recently paid a flying visit to Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl as part of a charity golf challenge with Australian former cricketer Shane Warne, said Mr Packham should “spend more time with the birds – away from the cameras” in a Sunday newspaper.

He added: “His stream of outbursts – a sort of eco-Tourettes – drags down confidence in the corporation among rural communities.

"He ruffles more feathers than Jeremy Clarkson and is damaging the reputation of the BBC’s wildlife team for impartiality.”