Scotland angry with U.S. hunter’s photos of trophy hunt

Posted at 7:03 PM, Oct 25, 2018

US hunter Larysa Switlyk poses with a dead wild goat on the Scottish island of Islay.

Scotland may change the laws around game hunting after a U.S. hunter attracted fierce criticism for posing with a dead wild goat and other animals killed on Islay in the Inner Hebrides.

“Beautiful wild goat here on the Island of Islay in Scotland,” Larysa Switlyk, a Florida-born hunter who hosts a show on Canada’s Wild TV, wrote on social media, alongside a photo of her posing with its corpse.

‏”Such a fun hunt!! They live on the edge of the cliffs of the island and know how to hide well. We hunted hard for a big one for 2 days and finally got on this group. Made a perfect 200 yard shot.”

Switlyk also posted photos of another goata ram, and a red stag killed during the Scotland hunting trip, sparking outrage from many online and calls to limit trophy hunting in the Hebrides.

Judy Murray, mother of the Scottish tennis player Andy, called the hunt “disgraceful” and urged the government to stop similar events taking place.

The backlash gathered steam on social media Wednesday, soon prompting a reaction from lawmakers.

Michael Russell, member of the Scottish Parliament for Argyll and Bute, which includes the island in question, said he would raise the hunt with the government “as a matter of urgency.”

“If this is actually happening on Islay, and laid on by some sort of tour company I would want to see it stopped immediately,” Russell said.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the government “will review the current situation and consider whether changes to the law are required.”

It was “totally understandable why the images from Islay of dead animals being held up as trophies is so upsetting and offensive to people,” Sturgeon added.

The National, a Scottish newspaper, splashed Switlyk across its front page Thursday, with the banner headline “GOAT HUNT FURY.”

For her part, the U.S. hunter may be unaware of the snowballing reaction to her photos. She wrote on Instagram late Wednesday night UK time that she was “headed out on a bush plane for my next hunting adventure and will be out of service for 2 weeks.”

“Hopefully that will give enough time for all the ignorant people out there sending me death threats to get educated on hunting and conservation,” she added. “FYI, I was in Scotland over a month ago.”

Culture clash

While hunting is common in parts of the UK, especially in areas where deer culls are deemed necessary for land management purposes, there is less of a culture of posing with supposed trophies after a kill as there is in the U.S.

Numerous American hunters have sparked outrage worldwide for posting photos of wild animals killed oncontroversial hunting trips in Namibia and other African countries.

Both sons of U.S. President Donald Trump, Donald Jr. and Eric, are big-game hunters. Don Jr. has been photographed holding a severed elephant tail after a hunt in Zimbabwe and has reportedly lobbied to reduce limits on trophy hunting in the US.

The prevalence of hunters posting photos of their shoots on social media has coincided with increased backlash to the practice, and the perceived gloating over killing wild animals with high-powered rifles.

While some game companies, particularly in African countries, justify hunts on the grounds that the large fees for killing animals help fund other conservation efforts, many experts dispute this.

“Economically, the actual benefits accrued by local people from the hunts have been found to be exaggerated or practically non-existent in the case of trophy hunted animals like polar bears in Canada,” Jeffrey Flocken, a senior vice president with the Humane Society, wrote for CNN in 2015.

“Hunters are not like natural predators,” he added. “They target the largest specimens; those with the biggest tusks, manes, antlers or horns.”

Heavily armed hunters don’t always have the last laugh however. Earlier this month, a hunter in Alaska was hospitalized after a large black bear he shot fell on top of him, while a video emerged last week of a team of hunters in Namibia fleeing from a herd of elephants which charged them after they shot one of its members.

The country’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism has ordered an investigation into the latter case, saying that the kill was “unethical and unprofessional,” and the hunters involved could lose their licenses, according to the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation.