US clothing giant Patagonia confirms it is paying money to anti-hunting group Moorland Monitors. It has given Moorland Monitors a financial grant for an indisclosed amount plus two years’ access to the ‘Patagonia Action Works platform’ which will help the animal rights extremists raise money and reach a wider audience on social media.
Patagonia entered the shooting market in 2015 with a range of clothing sold through UK outlets such as TheSportingLodge.co.uk and Farlow’s. It has made much of its hunting credentials in its marketing. However, its cash payments to a group dedicated to ending grouse-shooting has provoked anger from the hunting and shooting community worldwide.
The manufacturer started repeating baseless statements from Moorland Monitors in January, such as this ‘wildlife crime soars’ fake news.
During the 2020 lockdown, wildlife crime soared. Badgers and raptors were illegally persecuted on shooting estates. Join Patagonia grantee @MoorlandMonitor and urge people taking their permitted outdoor exercise to be extra vigilant. Record and report any concerns.— patagoniaeurope (@patagoniaeurope) January 5, 2021
Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard has long made the case that ‘hunters and tree huggers’ should get together. He told a convention in 2018 that, “The only way we’re going to get anything done is to work together.”
However, many UK shooters and hunters say that Moorland Monitors is a step too far. The group’s mission statement is ‘to protect persecuted wild species and wild spaces on driven grouse shooting estates’. It claims to be non-violent but supports anti-hunting organisations such as Sheffield Hunt Saboteurs, which themselves promote animal rights violence, including smashing traps. It ignores gamekeepers’ role as the only protection that UK upland wildlife has, and it campaigns against both gamekeeping and the shooting sports that pay for keepers.
Among unevidenced claims Moorland Monitors promotes are:
- Grousemoors cause flooding
- Wildlife crime increased during lockdown
- It has no connection with animal rights activist Luke Steele, who went to prison for 18 months for intimidation
In a statement, Patagonia’s environment action & initiatives director Beth Thoren says she has ‘thoroughly investigated’ claims against Moorland Monitors’ connections with violent anti-hunting people and organisations and finds ‘no evidence of a connection’.
Organisations including the Countryside Alliance have condemned Patagonia and others are considering calling for a boycott of Patagonia’s clothing by the UK’s 600,000 gun certificate holders.
Reacting to calls for a boycott, TheSportingLodge, which also counts on support from BASC, issued a statement that said: ‘We are confident in what we have been told by Patagonia, and that, they remain committed to field sports and fishing of which their owner Yvon Chouinard is an avid hunter and fisherman himself.’