A petition is circulating the Internet to no longer allow photographs of animals hunted for trophies to be uploaded and shared via Facebook.
The premise of the Change.org petition is to eliminate "smiling photos with trophies." The petition clearly states that is not an anti-hunting petition, but it's still alarming to the hunting community.
For many, hunting is a lifestyle and hunters work hard year-round to harvest a mature animal and fill the freezer. I don't take a picture of an animal I've killed just because it's a trophy, but for various other reasons.
Here are few explanations for why hunters post their hunting photos.
1. To preserve the moment forever.
Taking a picture of an animal that was harvested preserves the moment forever. You'll be able to share the experience with friends and family anywhere in the world via social media outlets like Facebook.
2. It's our right.
There are many bad things that circulate through Facebook, but to say that photographing an animal that was respectfully harvested is "evil" can be legitimately argued. It's important for hunters to take photos that convey respect for the animal and the hunting community. If those steps are taken, then I don't find it to be alarming or offensive whatsoever.
Here's an example of a nice buck that I harvested last fall. I shared the picture on Facebook not to offend anyone but to share the moment with family and friends. Most people would argue that there is nothing malicious with this photo. Why was I smiling? Because I was proud of harvesting a mature buck and putting venison in the freezer.
3. The Facebook mission statement supports sharing these types of photos.
Facebook aims to allow a platform for people to "stay connected with friends and family, to discover what's going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them." The photos that hunters share follow that description. If Facebook would ban hunters posing with their trophy, I'd assume they would just switch to Instagram or Twitter or a different social media platform.
People like Eva Shockey, who like others has received death threats for a picture of a bear she shot in November, are likely what sparked the creation of the petition. Would pictures on Facebook be such an issue if she didn't receive substantial publicity for the photo she posted last fall? Earlier this week Ricky Gervais shared a photo on Twitter publicly shaming Rebecca Francis, another hunter who posts trophy pictures on Facebook. Would people care as much if she were straight-faced, maybe even a little sad?
As of publication, the petition needs 212 more signatures to reach its 15,000 goal. Will Facebook or other online outlets recognize the petition, and enforce its demands?