Trolls take aim at Love Island Ollie

Conor O'Gorman

Conor O'Gorman

Conor O’Gorman has worked in a variety of conservation, policy and campaigning roles at BASC over the last 16 years. A zoology graduate with a PhD awarded for grey partridge research, he has over 25 years’ experience in conservation and land management.

A fellow shooter, Ollie Williams, is being subjected to the most appalling hate-filled attacks by social media trolls.

His crime?

Ollie is a contestant on Love Island, a British dating reality TV show with a legion of young impressionable fans. As with all public figures, media outlets have snooped through his social media accounts to dig out the dirt and create a media frenzy. This week it was revealed to people’s “shock-horror” that Ollie has allegedly shot warthog, water buffalo and other so-called ‘endangered animals’ in Africa. Armed with these pictures, the media have created a blizzard of misinformation and aided the creation of an anti-trophy hunting petition, “remove Ollie Williams from Winter Love Island for Trophy Hunting!”

The response

In response, an insider has provided a quote to the Daily Mirror stating that “Ollie is a passionate conservationist and worked with an anti-poaching unit in Mozambique”.

And, fair play to the show producers – ITV is holding firm and keeping Ollie in the show in the face of the online onslaught – unlike Liverpool Council, Reading University and University of Wales.

Sensationalism at its worst

While I predict that Love Island is not the programme of choice for the majority of BASC members, it highlights the apparent misunderstanding of the general public. Opinions are gleaned from a jigsaw of fragmented memories provided by social media, tv and newspapers.

The reputation of shooting is being relentlessly attacked and misrepresented by a battalion of online animal rights extremists. What is happening on your social media feed? Are people you know spouting ignorant nonsense about trophy hunting and other shooting activities? Although it may be a fight that one individual cannot win outright on their own, we need to stand strong and defend what we believe in. Shooting is for conservation and it helps support British agriculture.

I would like to wish Ollie every success in finding love on the show – while using his opportunity to educate the wider community about trophy hunting, or even that of sustainable shooting.

Silence is collusion and it’s time for every one of us one million shooters in the UK to speak out.

Defra consultation – have your say

Defra is currently running a consultation on the future of importing and exporting hunting trophies in the UK. This poses four options which could have huge implications for the future of shooting.

BASC supports the sustainable harvest of wildlife in the UK and overseas and the import and export of trophies arising from such harvesting where they are clearly proven to be from a sustainable source; noting that well-regulated trophy hunting programmes play an important role in delivering benefits for both nature and people. Click here to read why Option Three is not an option. 

Make sure you have your say on Defra’s consultation before 25 January. Trophy hunting is the new frontline for shooting and key principles are at stake.

The ideology that is encouraging UK citizens to dictate how large game is managed in other countries could at some future point be equally applied to restrict the ‘trophy hunting’ of deer and other quarry species in the UK.

To respond you can simply email Defra at huntingtrophyconsultation@defra.gov.uk stating that you support option four (do nothing and continue to apply current controls based on internationally agreed rules) in the consultation.

BASC silences Love Island petition trolls

Comments section disabled within an hour of BASC’s complaint.

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Trophy Hunting

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