DEAD crows have been left hanging outside the home of TV presenter Chris Packham after he backed a legal challenge which resulted in a ban on shooting pigeons and other birds.

The broadcaster said on Thursday that he has contacted police following the incident, which he said also saw his gate damaged.

The BBC Springwatch presenter was part of an action which resulted in Natural England's revoking of three general licences which allowed the shooting of 16 species of bird, including crows, magpies, Canada geese and feral and wood pigeon.

The legal challenge was made by the environmentalist group Wild Justice, which includes wildlife campaigners Dr Mark Avery and Dr Ruth Tingay, as well as Mr Packham.

A petition titled "BBC to sack Chris Packham" has been launched following the revoking of the licences, and has so far received more than 70,000 signatures.

The petition's description reads: "As an employee of the BBC, Chris Packham should remain impartial and keep his views and beliefs to himself."

A Farmer's Weekly poll asking if Mr Packham should be dismissed has also been launched.

A Natural England spokesman said that the body would look to bring in "alternative measures" over the coming weeks to allow the lawful control of the shooting of the bird species to continue.

It said that, until then, those looking to kill the birds where there is no reasonable non-lethal alternative will have to apply for an individual licence.

Reacting to the move, a spokesman for Wild Justice, which was launched in February, said: "What sort of world is it where the statutory body with responsibility for wildlife protection is operating a bird-killing licensing scheme that is unlawful?

"Millions of birds are killed each year under the terms of the General Licences and many of these deaths will not be justified.

"We are grateful to over 1,100 individuals who funded this legal challenge and allowed us to take it with the means to progress it through the courts."

On its website, Wild Justice explained how the legal challenge was based around the idea that Natural England could not be satisfied that the conditions needed for the 16 bird species to be legally killed had been met.

In a statement, the government body said: "The change follows a legal challenge to the way the licences have been issued, which could mean users who rely on them are not acting lawfully.

"Natural England is working at pace to put in place over the next few weeks alternative measures to allow lawful control of these bird species to continue where necessary.

"In the meantime, once the licences have been revoked and until new licences are issued, anyone needing to control one of these 16 bird species where there is no reasonable non-lethal alternative will need to apply for an individual licence."

The ban has been criticised by members of the British Game Alliance and many farmers, who say that pigeons need to be controlled in order to protect crops.

Tom Adams, the managing director of the British Game Alliance, said: "The pigeon sector is relied on by game processing businesses to keep them going through the 'closed season' of the spring and summer when no game birds like grouse and pheasant can be shot.

"Hundreds of jobs are at severe risk if a solution isn't found."