Queen and corgis 'risk wolf or bear encounter under Chris Packham's rewild call'

The Queen and her corgis could be at risk from being attacked by bears and wolves on royal estates if they are to be made wild under a call from environmentalist Chris Packham, the House of Lords has heard.

Tory former minister Lord Marland questioned Packham’s plan to rewild royal estates by asking what would happen if the Queen or her dogs came face to face with a bear or a wolf.

Speaking in the House of Lords, Lord Marland declared he and others were “terrified” of the campaigning wildlife presenter securing a seat on a new body to ensure UK ministers take account of animals ’ welfare needs when putting together new policies.

Under legislation going through the House of Lords, the animal sentience committee would assess and report on the impacts of government decisions, with the relevant secretary of state required to respond.

The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill, which the government is seeking to introduce post-Brexit, recognises that animals have feelings in law aimed at ensuring welfare standards.

Queen and corgis 'risk wolf or bear encounter under Chris Packham’s rewild call'
© Getty Images/iStockphoto Rewilding royal estates could lead to the Queen having an

Ahead of the recent Cop26 climate summit, Packham led a children’s march to Buckingham Palace to deliver a petition with more than 100,000 signatures asking the royal family – the UK’s biggest landowner – to commit to rewilding its estates.

Critics have argued it could have unintended consequences and Lord Marland was worried about the people who could be on the sentience committee.

“Most of us are terrified of someone like Chris Packham, for example,” he said.

He highlighted the TV naturalist’s petition to the Queen “which said that she must rewild her entire estate so that we can have bears and wolves back on it”.

Queen and corgis 'risk wolf or bear encounter under Chris Packham’s rewild call'
© PA Wildlife expert Chris Packham

The Conservative peer said: “Imagine going out of Balmoral with your corgis and being confronted by a bear and a wolf. I mean, what sort of people are we listening to?”

He added: “There are so many holes in this, and there is such a lack of clarity, that I thoroughly despair for the countryside in the future.”

It comes as the government has extended legislation to cover octopuses, crabs and lobsters after a study found they had feelings.

Research from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) found that there was strong scientific evidence that these animals had the capacity to experience pain, distress or harm.

The government commissioned the independent study, as up until now, decapod crustaceans – including crabs, lobsters and crayfish – and cephalopods- including octopuses, squid and cuttlefish – had not been recognised under the Bill.

The legislation now goes to the House of Commons for further consideration.

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