These images, of a hunter and her prey, have ignited an uproar in Scotland and on social media, where Switlyk has been called a “coward” and a “disgrace” — and worse.
“YOU ARE NOT WELCOME IN SCOTLAND,” one person wrote.
Hunting is legal in the United Kingdom. Still, amid a mounting backlash over Switlyk’s photos, Scottish lawmakers said they may reconsider the country’s hunting laws. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Wednesday that the government will “review the current situation and consider whether changes to the law are required.”
Switlyk could not be reached for comment. But as the backlash continued, she posted yet another photo late Wednesday, showing her with a bush plane in the background.
She said she was embarking on her next “hunting adventure” and would be without Internet and cellphone service.
“Nothing better than disconnecting from this social media driven world and connecting back with nature,” she wrote. “Hopefully that will give enough time for all the ignorant people out there sending me death threats to get educated on hunting and conservation.”
Switlyk said earlier on Instagram that she was in Scotland more than a month ago.
It wasn’t until a couple of weeks after the trip, when she started posting the photos, that the backlash began.
The first photo was posted Oct. 10, showing her outside Mingary Castle in Kilchoan. “Feeling like royalty staying in the Mingary Castle and glassing for Red Stags with my @nightforce_optics spotting scope,” she wrote.
Then came the photo of the slain Royal Stag.
The comments began to trickle in: “HONEY YOUR DEF NOT ROYALTY,” and “go back to America,” and more.
“You’re a weird person,” somebody wrote. “Where’s the challenge in shooting defenceless goats and then posing for pictures with them as if you are cool. It honestly looks like a rubbish life.”
View this post on Instagram
Beautiful wild goat here on the Island of Islay in Scotland. 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 and dropped him with the @gunwerks and @nightforce_optics ! ( Good thing too because he could have ran off the cliff into the water). Ever interested in hunting Scotland and doing some whisky tours, email firstname.lastname@example.org !
Critics argued that it was disgraceful to present dead animals as trophies, and several people called Switlyk a “coward” for killing the animals with a rifle.
“It’s one thing to actually hunt an animal with bow and arrow (and I’m not talking compound bows) because that takes actual skill,” one person wrote on her Instagram. “Using a gun is a cowardly, unskilled way to take down an unsuspecting creature. To parade its corpse around is beyond sickening. Think about your actions. Clearly you have no respect for life.”
Scottish tennis coach Judy Murray — whose adult sons, Andy and Jamie Murray, are British tennis stars — called on the government to put an end to such incidents.
Sarah Moyes, with the Scottish animal welfare organization OneKind, told ITV News that the images were “utterly shocking.”
“Yet again, instead of celebrating Scotland’s magnificent wildlife, we are seeing these beautiful animals exploited in the name of sport,” she said. “This is not the kind of tourism we should be encouraging in Scotland, let alone allowing to happen in the 21st century.”
In the United Kingdom, hunting and killing wild animals is legal. The law stipulates that it is illegal to hunt certain animals in certain situations, such as using a pack of dogs, or to cause “unnecessary suffering to an animal,” according to the government’s website.
Roseanna Cunningham, cabinet secretary for environment, climate change and land reform in Scotland, said the government will look into it.
“We fully understand why so many people find these images of hunted animals being held up as trophies so upsetting,” she said in a statement on Twitter. “Responsible and appropriate culling of animals is a necessary part of sustainable land management and the culling of some wild animals, including deer and goats, is not illegal. However, we understand the concerns raised by these images and, in light of them, the Environment Secretary will review the situation and consider whether any clarification of or changes to the law might be required.”
Big-game trophy hunting and, of course, illegal hunting have caused controversy in other countries as well.
Perhaps the most notable incident came in 2015, when American dentist Walter Palmer hunted and killed Africa’s beloved Cecil the lion.
More recently, in August, a man and his teenage son were charged with illegal hunting after killing a black bear in her den in Alaska, then shooting her newborn cubs.