Gavin Dingman, an 11-year-old boy, went hunting with his father in Michigan a few weeks ago and killed an albino buck with a crossbow.
Dingman posted a photo of himself with the kill, which was shared by larger organizations helping it gain social media traction.
According to an article from The Wichita Eagle, a Michigan official stated that the boy has done nothing wrong by killing this buck. The article states, “Albino and all-white deer have been legal to hunt in Michigan since 2008.” This is because it is difficult to see the difference between deer that are entirely white and those that are white with brown spots from far away. A Department of Natural Resources deer program specialist said, “There is no biological reason to protect the genetic trait that causes a deer to be all-white or albino.”
Despite all this, Dingman received a slew of rude comments and what could be considered cyber bullying from people across the country. According to an article on www.vocativ.com, one commenter said that “someone should shoot that kid with an arrow” along with other comments along the same lines, including death threats to the 11-year-old boy.
In another hunting controversy that came to light mainly over the summer, Texas Tech cheerleader Kendall Jones received backlash after she posted pictures from big-game hunting in Africa. She has killed an elephant, leopard, buffalo, rhinoceros and more.
One of the top comments on a photo says, “you look like a sick, sick sociopath when you sit next to an animal with a grin on your face.” Another says, “These photos are just as disgraceful as those pictures of soldiers with the people they killed in the Middle East.”
And at first glance, a picture of a dead animal may seem like a violent, heartless, purposeless act. We often put these kinds of animals up on a pedestal in the United States because they are featured in zoos and considered “safari” animals.
However, when you research and look into what Jones was really doing, she was not mindlessly killing. For example, in one of her own posts featuring herself and what appears to be a dead rhino, Jones explains that the animal was only “darted and immobilized in order to draw blood for testing, DNA profiling … and treating a massive leg injury most likely caused by lions.”
In an editorial by the LA Times, the writer defends Jones’ actions saying, “the most effective way to preserve endangered species, and even to reverse their endangerment, is to create a market for them, giving locals in those countries an incentive to conserve them. One of those incentives is allowing limited hunting, with hunters such as Jones and her father paying high prices to individuals, nonprofits and government entities for the privilege of bagging game.”
Whether you agree with this argument or not, animals are animals. To us, a lion or elephant seems much more special but (unless you’re a vegetarian) you probably eat cows and chickens and other farm animals on a regular basis.
I don’t think what Dingman and Jones did was wrong. It was entirely legal and they put the animals to good use, as far as they have said.
Yes, these individuals chose to place themselves in the spotlight by sharing pictures on social media. However, that does not mean that they deserve death threats and nasty responses from uneducated commenters.
I’ve noticed that in recent years anyone with a nice camera feels like they can upload a severely filtered picture and become a “photographer.” Some people with a Facebook account seem to have the same mentality: that they immediately become an expert simply because they have an opinion and have liked a page.
It’s OK to disagree with someone. But be respectful when you do so and have a valid reason for what you say. Mindless bashing, threatening and assumptions are not going to get you anywhere.