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Leading academics hit out at ‘avalanche’ of misinformation over trophy hunting

The proposal to ban the import of hunting trophies to the UK has led to a spike in campaigning against the practice of travelling overseas to hunt.

Adam Hart, Professor of Science Communication at the University of Gloucester and a fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, told Shooting Times: “The misinformation (some might term it disinformation) being put forward in the trophy hunting debate is exceptional. It is such an avalanche it is hard to combat, which I suspect is part of the strategy.”

Nikolaj Bichel of the University of Oxford Wildlife Conservation Research Unit agreed. Nikolaj said: “While you can find misinformation on both sides of the trophy hunting debate when you really get into it, the misinformation that the general public encounters is largely one-sided.”

Professor Hart pointed out that the inaccuracy had gone far beyond the public sphere and has begun to influence political decision making. He explained: “The recent All Party Parliamentary Group on trophy hunting published a report that is appalling in its treatment of evidence, whilst an evidence session given in Parliament contained a multiple of unchallenged and easily falsifiable ‘facts’ presented by people salaried by organisations pushing bans.”

Among all the organisations campaigning against trophy hunting, the ‘Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting’, which is run by former League Against Cruel Sports Director Eduardo Goncalves, has stood out for its willingness to promote misinformation in an attempt to influence debate. Nikolaj said: “Unfortunately that campaign is so riddled with disinformation that the public has no chance of making an informed decision if this is their only source of information. So they end up thinking that trophy hunting is a conservation threat, which it generally isn’t and they’ll never know that it can be a conservation benefit.”

Professor Hart issued a warning of what he thought the likely consequences would be if these campaigns succeeded. He said: “Bans without alternatives will cause harm to habitat, species and communities, and to pursue such bans through misinformation motivated by a hatred of hunting, under a banner of moral righteousness, is inexcusable.”