The news: A photograph of big game hunter Melissa Bachman posing with a dead lion has gone viral. The picture, which she posted to her personal Twitter and Facebook accounts, has caused backlash across the web.
Hundreds of thousands of people have come out against Bachman’s hunting. A Change.org petition calling for the South African government to deny Bachman future entry into the country has nearly 350,000 signatures. “Stop Melissa Bachman,” a Facebook group decrying her “trophy hunting” has been liked over 200,000 times. Even if the hunt was legal, that hasn’t prevented outrage from spreading like a wildfire.
The backstory: Trophy hunting like Bachman’s isn’t anything new. In September, NBC came under scrutiny for its television show Under Wild Skies, which featured a strategist from the National Rifle Association posing with an elephant he had shot and killed (it didn’t help when Tony Makris, the NRA official, compared his critics to Hitler).
Similarly, at the end of October, a wildlife group from Dallas auctioned off a chance to hunt an endangered rhinoceros, drawing considerable ire from conservationists who saw the problem with hunting a rhino in the name of saving the species.
Why this matters: Sure, maybe their trophy hunts are legal, but it doesn’t make these big game hunters any less of assholes. It’s not hard to see why these pictures posted of hunters smiling over the carcass of a dead animal rub people the wrong way.
You can even buy merchandise on Melissa Bachman’s personal website. When dozens of animals remain on the endangered species list, bragging about which big game you bagged last weekend isn’t going to win you many fans. Unfortunately, though, that seems to be the whole point of the kind of hunting Bachman takes part in — showcasing your biggest kills to the world at large. Even if it sparks a petition to get you personally barred from a country.