A HAMPSHIRE councillor has leapt to the defence of TV naturalist Chris Packham following his claim that the New Forest is being overgrazed.

Chris has come under fire from several organisations in the Forest, including the Commoners’ Defence Association, after calling for the number of free-roaming animals to be reduced.

But the Winterwatch presenter, who lives in the Forest, has the backing of Totton councillor David Harrison.

He said: “Time and again Chris has proved himself to be a courageous advocate for wildlife, standing up to all sorts of organisations and even national governments.

“Of course, he isn’t always 100% correct in all that he says but it is wrong to label him as ‘using his celebrity status to advance his profile’.

“The one thing I know about Chris is that he cares very deeply about wildlife and he speaks out for the benefit of that, not himself.

“Whether you agree or disagree with what he says, he does sterling work in raising issues that do need to be addressed. I remain a member of the Chris Packham fan club.”