Steve Ecklund is a well-known hunter in Canada. While most of his social media posts attract negative comments, one of his more recent ones caught the attention of thousands.
While ‘Ethical hunting’ will remain a contentious issue and a topic of hot debate for the foreseeable future, one purveyor of the sport has found himself the center of a social media storm for posting graphic pictures of his kills on Facebook.
Steve Ecklund, from Alberta, Canada, and his wife Alison, are both well-known for their love for hunting. Ecklund, in particular, regularly posts the spoils of their hunts – often involving the carcasses of animals such as bison, mountain lions, black bears, and rams – to both a barrage of supportive as well as well as derogatory responses.
However, he’s getting more than his bargained share of attention with his latest grisly update. In a Facebook update, Ecklund can be seen grinning next to the corpse of a mountain lion that he just killed. Accompanying the bloodstained lion are two of his beagles as well as three other friends. While that attracted plenty of negative scrutinies, a later more graphic post, which even had to be filtered because of its gruesome content, appeared to show the animal’s heart laid bare and cut open.
Ecklund is often religiously defended by an active pro-hunting community online, but he has no such support in the U.K. Campaign group Hunt Saboteurs Association has termed his actions as ‘morally reprehensible’ Lee Moon, a spokesperson for the group was quoted saying: “Whether legal or illegal, and whatever country it occurs in, hunting for sport is morally reprehensible and has no place in a so-called civilised society.”
He continued: “Links between animal and human abuse are well documented and it’s beyond our comprehension what makes people think this kind of barbaric act is deemed acceptable. When the authorities don’t act it’s no wonder that people take matters into their own hands and protect hunted animals themselves.”
Soon, PETA stepped in as well to condemn his actions. Regarding his posts, a PETA spokesperson said: “Only someone dead in heart and head could fail to see that mountain lions, wild boars, deer, and other animals are thinking, feeling individuals – not “things” to blow away for amusement.”
“Those animals whose lives aren’t taken outright by hunters often endure slow, agonizing deaths, leaving their offspring to starve, as they’re unable to fend for themselves after their mothers have been killed by some human trying to compensate for feelings of inadequacy.”
“All most of us see when we look at a photograph of a hunter who gunned down an animal for “pleasure” is photographic evidence of a small person with deep-seated insecurities.”
However, his defenders, as well as defenders of ethical hunting will have a different point of view. They will argue that the money raised from such hunting helps aid conservation efforts. Ecklund is the host of the TV show The Edge, the website of which identifies him as a ‘fair chase hunter.’ What that entails is that all the hunting he participates in is ‘ethical’ and all the animals are ‘free-ranging,’ meaning they are not confined by gates or barriers.
The website also lists some of Ecklund’s achievements, one of which includes winning the 1999 gold medal at the Canadian national 3D archery championships. It describes hunting as his passion and his ‘motivational lifesaver,’ referring to the fact that he was recently diagnosed and treated for cancer.
Laws in Alberta, Canada, also insist on such hunters holding a recreational hunting license. It states that it is illegal to discharge a weapon at a big game animal while it is swimming, be accompanied by a dog while hunting big game or allow a dog to pursue big game during the winter season hunting season.
While most of Ecklund’s posts attract some attention, his mountain lion kill post was shared over 2,000 times and nearly 1,000 comments; some positive, but mostly negative. One user wrote: “Those who find pleasure in sadistic behaviors such a murder will reap what they sow. The smile of pure joy holding an innocent dead body is purely psychotic.”
Another commented: “I love archery, I love nature and the beautiful creatures that inhabit it, and this makes me sick to my core. This is a shameful and disgusting act of violence by a blatantly deranged human,” with yet another suggesting he joins a firing range if he really wanted to test how talented he was and that future generations would not be able to enjoy nature because it had been wiped out by ‘greedy and cruel people.’
One heartfelt comment read: “Please see that the animal that you killed was a living, sentient being with a family. He wanted to live. You have taken that away from him, and for what?” while less coherent comments called him a ‘pathetic coward.’
A rare comment in his support went: “We need to consider the time and effort that is put into such a hunt. It takes work and this man has a celebratory smile on his face because instead of walking into a store and buying beef out of the fridge that had its throat slit in front of a hundred other cows, he had to stalk and hunt and work hard to fill his freezer and that is rewarding.”
Considering his actions were entirely legal, he will not be reprimanded nor face any discipline for his actions. While it is entirely within his rights to hunt, one could argue it would be more tactful of him to not post some of the more distasteful pictures on his social media.