A trophy hunter has found a way to make a living from killing: televising it. Self-described “hardcore hunter” Melissa Bachman writes and produces for the show, “Winchester Deadly Passion,” which shows her doing her thing. Its website boasts about the “world-class animals” she has killed and enthuses that when she hunts, she has “fun doing what she loves.” For years Bachman has spent her free time executing animals.
She recently came to broader public attention thanks to a photograph of her grinning behind an adult male lion she shot. You can see that picture and others featuring individuals from other species whom she killed in the Gallery section of her website. The release of the lion’s death portrait coincided with U.S. government deliberations over adding African lions to the endangered species list. There may be no more than 32,000 of the big cats left in the wild, and they could be headed for extinction as soon as 2023.
The outcry against Bachman has been swift and loud. One campaign asked South Africa, where she offed the lion, to keep her out of the country. A petition right here on Care2 aims to get “Winchester Deadly Passion” canceled. As of this writing it has close to 107,000 signatures. The petition calls trophy hunting (which, according to the League Against Cruel Sports, means the “stalking and killing of wild animals for sport”) despicable and disrespectful of nature, and says that it undermines conservation efforts.
Last year the National Geographic Channel quickly dropped Bachman from its upcoming “Ultimate Survivor Alaska” series after protests about her trophy hunting.
The case against hunting is obvious. It takes away animals’ lives, causes them pain and deprives offspring, mates and other individuals whom the deceased leaves behind. Bachman causes all this destruction just for her own fun, and she does it over and over.
A growing number of Americans not only support hunting in the abstract, but are taking up arms against non-human animals. The U.S. Department of the Interior reported that in 2011, 13.7 million Americans hunted. To hear hunters tell it, their lethal recreation benefits wildlife, the environment and local communities.
Bachman killed the now-famous South African lion at the Maroi Conservancy. A website called Trophy Takers Outdoors (the logo includes a skull) posted an article extolling game farms like Maroi, claiming they “help aid the wildlife population, conserve habitat, deter poachers and bring in revenue to local economies.”
Maroi posted and then removed an online statement implying that the conservancy does what has to be done. “If you are not a game farmer and struggling with dying starving animals, poaching and no fences in place to protect your animals and crop, please refrain from making negative, derogatory comments.” Maroi agrees with Trophy Takers that it is a force for good, not evil: “We do ethical hunting and all meat from animals hunted is distrubuted [sic] to the local community. Funds generated from hunting goes [sic] towards fixing the border fence that was washed away in the 2013 floods; combating poaching which is excessive in this area due to close proximity to Zimbabwe and running a sustainable conservancy.”
The Maroi Conservancy and its boosters make an argument that at first sounds like they are reducing the number of animals hunters put to death, but really only claims to have moved the location of the hunting. The Trophy Taker article states that before Maroi became “a game operation, poaching was common on the crop fields and cattle lands. Nowadays, the profitable conservancy contains a variety of huntable species, and game meat from successful hunts is distributed to the local community to discourage poaching.”
The same number of animals — or maybe even more — die and are eaten compared to when locals hunted wherever they wanted instead of going to the conservancy that concentrates animals together in one handy place. On top of that, the area reaps the revenues from death-intoxicated Western tourists like Melissa Bachman.
Lions must have a very special place in our hearts for this particular picture to spark such a big brouhaha. Bachman has been slaying wildlife abroad for years. American hunters have been killing our local fauna much closer to home since always. It took this picture to rally anti-hunters.
But lions are also popular items on the menus of some American restaurants. Hunting opponents will need a wider-angle lens on human treatment of animals to strike at the heart of the problem: we ascribe so little value to animals’ lives that we are all free to kill them just for the hell of it.
In the meantime, to help pay Bachman back for the life she took, sign our petition to cancel her show.
Photo Credit: Melissa Bachman via Twitter