The Internet exploded with rage and disgust last week when big game hunter Melissa Bachman posted a photo of herself sitting on a dead lion, a big grin on her face, on her Facebook and Twitter pages.
Bachman’s claim to fame is her status as a female in the male-dominated field of trophy hunting. She hosts the TV show Deadly Passion, in which she hunts and slays big game for the sake of earning trophies to stuff and hang on her walls.
The photo quickly went viral and generated a Facebook page, Stop Melissa Bachman, which at the time I’m writing this has more than 256,000 fans. It also spurred a change.org petition demanding that the South African government not allow her to return. That petition has about 416,000 signatures to date.
I can see why. Trophy hunting expresses a callous disregard for animal life and is more about ego gratification than necessity. But for some reason, Bachman was shocked that people would react with such outrage to a photo of her gloating over a big cat she shot to death and her gushing about what an incredible hunt it was, and how hardcore she is for stalking and killing it from less than 60 yards away.
Really? She’s surprised that people would be pissed off about killing a creature classified as "vulnerable" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List — which also describes the primary threat to lions as "indiscriminate hunting?"
What planet does this woman live on?
Of course, the apologists quickly came out to play, including an extremely unlikely ally, Kristina Pepelko of the conservation site One Green Planet, who claims that the extreme backlash against Bachman is because she’s a woman who breaks the stereotype of the male big game hunter.
Seriously? No. This is not a feminist issue, no matter what kind of language people use in their comments!
Apparently Pepelko forgot about the equally huge hue and cry that exploded across the Internet in 2011, when GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons went on a "safari" and killed an elephant, making a video of the whole experience. Parsons was greeted with just as much vitriol as Bachman, and just as many personal attacks and vulgar comments about his appearance and the diminutive size of his genitals, for which it was said he’s overcompensating with his sport hunting activities.
No, the outrage against Bachman isn’t because she’s a woman, so people need to stop boo-hooing about that and face the real issue, which is that sport hunting is a sick and disgusting "hobby."
Look, I’ve got no problem with people hunting for food. I come from a state with a long tradition of hunting wild game — a tradition in which women and girls participate just as much as men and boys. If you’re going to eat what you kill, I’m cool with that. Murdering an animal and leaving its carcass to rot in the sun so you can put its head on your wall, not so much. It’s just plain creepy.
You know who else keeps trophies of their victims? Serial killers.
People need to quit it with the excuses and justifications and realize that big game hunting is a very real problem that very really hurts wildlife species already threatened by habitat encroachment and global climate change.
Oh, and incidentally: Bachman took down her Facebook and Twitter pages after people started attacking her for her actions. Way to go, oh mighty and brave huntress.
About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, professional cat sitter, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.