That hackneyed phrase was the one selected by Chris Packham to describe reports much covered in the press, concerning British shooters travelling to Iceland to kill puffin. Well, Chris, apparently you can make it up, because as an investigation by Shooting Times magazine has revealed no British shooters have been involved in what must be regarded as a very miserable practice. Packham, who is very quick to seize any opportunity to denigrate shooters, has something of a less than impressive record when it comes to correcting things when he gets them wrong, but we live in hope.
That said there are times when the worldwide shooting community is forced into collective shame as a result of the activities of a tiny number of those embraced within its maw. Moments when admitting that one shoots or supports the fact that others do so, falls into the same category as owning up to being a fan of Russell Brand or collecting Nazi memorabilia. An event that means that in admitting to one’s child that, yes, Daddy does shoot, is to be forever diminished in their eyes. Moreover, – and here we reach the fountainhead of that shame – if upon further questioning the confession falls from the lips: “Yes, my son, I shot puffins”.
Quite what goes through the minds of those – one is tempted to call them halfwits, except that would be to overestimate their wit count by 50% – who have journeyed to Iceland in order that they might add to their list of achievements (bearing in mind that breathing through their noses may very well occupy the number one spot on that list) the killing of this inoffensive seabird, one cannot fathom. Rightly, for once, the news that the puffin is now among the targets of these life forms who are some notches below it on the evolutionary scale, has been seized upon by the media and thereafter used as a stick to beat us all. It is, alas, even though no Brits were involved one of those all too rare occasions where the beating is wholly justified.
The puffin though numerous in Iceland, is in decline. As a target it offers no challenge to the shooter although it has to be accepted that these particular shooters will have already faced significant challenges, such as walking upright, learning not to point at the moon when it appears and using a spoon without having opposable thumbs. We can only hope that the Icelandic authorities put the kybosh on future expeditions.