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‘Brits’ flocking to Iceland to ‘shoot puffin’ in droves shown to be a false story

Puffins in Mykines by Countryside Alliance
Puffins in Mykines by Countryside Alliance

A recent story that generated from the Telegraph, which was then lifted widely by several leading British newspapers (including the Mirror, Independent and Metro) concerning ‘British’ hunters allegedly flocking in their droves to shoot puffins in Iceland, has been revealed to not only be completely lacking in any evidence; but also factually wrong. It was shared far and wide via social media as well as in print, with many prominent British political figures coming out to condemn British people flocking to Iceland to shoot up to ‘100 puffins at a time’.

Dubbed by some as ‘#PuffinGate’, the sorry saga has brought into question the damaging nature of clickbait story telling.

It didn’t take long to spot the cracks in the story. Many in the British shooting community struggled to recall any examples of fellow Brits shooting puffins in Iceland. After investigative research into the fishy claims- which before long had gone viral- it became apparent that not only had the original author in the Telegraph failed to complete the necessary research needed to justify the story; they had also left out vital information that proved the story to be false.

Senior Icelandic sources at the Icelandic Hunting Association have now responded (perhaps they should have been consulted before clicking submit) in utter bemusement. It’s become clear that the men photographed next to puffins date back some ten years and none of them are British.

Pivotally, they also pointed out that the relevant Icelandic authorities hadn’t issued any permits to shoot puffins to British tourists in years. The suggestion, therefore, that British people are flocking to Iceland, is incorrect.

Aki Armann Jonsson, President of the Icelandic Hunting Association and former director at the Environment Agency of Iceland stressed that hunting tourism is “quite small” and that, typically, 100 permits are given out to ALL foreigners a year which are mainly for “goose and reindeer” hunting. Hardly an indication that Brits are heading to Iceland to shoot puffins in the supposed high numbers implied.

Tim Bonner, Chairman of the Countryside Alliance said ” there is absolutely no need to create a false narrative about British puffin hunters in order to raise serious issues about conservation, in fact the false narrative sadly bring the whole story into disrepute“. So far one leading newspaper has corrected their original article to exclude any reference to ‘British’ shooters.

“FACE helped the UK and Icelandic hunting organisations to present the facts on this story. Official figures show that nobody from the UK has gone to hunt Puffin there in the last couple of years. Journalists within the UK should focus on promoting well-researched stories rather than confusing the facts”.

Dr.David Scallan, Secretary General at FACE – European Federation for Hunting and Conservation in Brussels

See all the information here:

Guido Fawkes had the story yesterday: Click here to read.

The Shooting Times has also covered the story in detail. Click here to read their story

After lodging complaints, we can reveal that both the Metro and Independent have now corrected their stories to drop any mention of British people.

This incident has shown just how easy it is for a story, that lacks evidence, to be lifted and spread across the internet. The Independent have stated: “Of course, like all publishers we pick up stories from other papers and websites, but this one was taken a step too far.”

Let’s hope the other publications do the right thing and correct the story.

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