WARNING – DISTRESSING IMAGES: A big-game hunter who has been inundated with death threats after posting images of her posing with dead bears and wolves says the backlash is “almost comical”.
Kate Small, 29, told Yahoo News Australia she began hunting with her stepdad 10 years ago and it quickly became a strong passion – one that she proudly displays to her thousands of followers on Facebook and Instagram.
She said she predominantly hunts bear, wolves, elk, deer and moose. The 29-year-old, from Idaho in the US, also killed a gemsbok, or South African Oryx, during a trip last year.
“I believe many people look at bears and wolves and see cute, cuddly woodland creatures. These people are reacting based purely on emotion and not education,” she said.
The 29-year-old said she abided by the hunting laws, which are regulated by Department of Fish and Game.
She also claims hunting is necessary to help reduce the growing wolf and bear population, which she and the department say increases the health of herds.
“Hunting helps these animals combat spread of disease and competition for food. I know people think hunting is cruel, but it isn’t, you know what’s cruel? Mother Nature.
“Have you ever seen an elk get half eaten by wolves and suffer for hours while it slowly and painfully dies?” she said.
Big game hunter accused of being ‘evil’
Thousands of people have posted comments to Ms Small’s social media accounts calling her “evil”, “vile” and saying she should be “in a cold prison cell or mauled to death”.
“I’m sorry that you must’ve had such an awful upbringing to think that murdering innocent lives gets you popularity. Hopefully you get the help you need to learn some empathy and stop torturing innocent lives,” one man wrote on her most recent Instagram post.
“Nature keeps everything in position you don't need to do that, it isn't your job to take an animals life. Nature is beautiful and people like you are destroying it!” a woman said on Facebook.
“This is a really sad picture, nothing to celebrate here. Not sure why you enjoy this. Just breaks my heart for you and for them, not really sure how to describe what I see here, no words, just death and sadness,” another said.
‘Hunting completely devoid of sportsmanship’
Ben Williamson, Programs Director at World Animal Protection, United States told Yahoo News Australia “hunting is cruel and completely devoid of sportsmanship.”
“Small has no empathy, compassion, or respect for wildlife. She is not killing for food or conservation. It’s all about her own vanity,” he said.
“Hunters love to defend their actions in the media with claims of hunting for food or conservation. But, when they talk to each other, in online forums and industry publications, it’s all about the thrill of the kill.
“Hunters take out the biggest, strongest and most obvious targets. It’s weakening the gene pool and hindering conservation, not bolstering it.”
Mr Williamson said animals rarely die from a single shot and can travel long distances while injured before collapsing and dying in pain.
‘Legal and ethical hunts’
Ms Small maintains the animals she hunts are “taken in a legal and ethical manner”, adding hunters “despise poachers”.
She also eats all of the animals except for wolves because they can carry diseases.
“Bear meat is actually my favourite and my family survives off what we harvest. We don’t buy meat at the store, we harvest it ourselves and that is truly the most organic way to eat,” she said.
The 29-year-old said she often laughs off the backlash and death threats.
“For the most part I try to use education and explain why I do what I do, but I must admit sometimes my sarcasm gets the better of me and I respond with humour.
“I usually laugh the death threats off, if you are threatening someone who hunts apex predators for a living, you mustn’t be very bright.”
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