Chris Packham is attempting to strangle the game shooting industry with his latest legal challenge, campaigners have said.

Wildlife campaign group Wild Justice is planning to sue the Government over "failures" to assess the impacts of releasing non-native gamebirds for shooting.

But the plans have been branded an “extremist attack” on the game industry, that will have “cataclysmic” effects.

The group’s latest challenge to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) over what it claims are failures to assess the impacts on conservation sites of releasing tens of millions of non-native pheasants and red-legged partridges into the countryside by the shooting industry, will squeeze the economy, according to campaigners.

“Shooting influences 14 million hectares of rural land management and almost two million hectares are actively managed for conservation. It is estimated that shooting provides for 3.9 million work days being spent on conservation each year, which is the equivalent of 16,000 full-time conservation jobs,” Caroline Bedell, BASC’s executive director of conservation said.

Wild Justice said it aims to force Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Defra to assess the impacts of non-native gamebirds on native wildlife.

The group claims the numbers of captive-reared pheasants and partridges being released have increased about 10-fold in the last 45 years and are not regulated by the Government.

Ms Bedell added: “Studies show that well-managed shooting is of benefit to the environment and conservation organisations and the government have acknowledged the benefit of shooting to the environment. 

Wild Justice has already challenged Natural England over general licences to kill "pest" wild bird species.

It led Natural England to revoke three general licences, prompting anger from gamekeepers and farmers, with Packham being targeted with dead birds hung from his gate.

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