Steve Ecklund is a hunter in Canada. While most of his posts on social media attract negative comments, one of his latest ones caught the attention of thousands of people.
While ‘Ethical hunting’ remains a contentious issue and a matter of hot discussion for the foreseeable future, a purveyor of the sport has become the center of a social media storm for sharing graphic photos of his kills on Facebook.
This image garnered a lot of attention (Facebook)
Steve Ecklund, from Alberta in Canada, and his wife Alison, both love hunting. Ecklund, particularly, often posts the spoils of their hunts – often including the carcasses of animals such as, for instance, bison, mountain lions, black bears, as well as rams – to both a barrage of supportive and derogatory responses.
Nevertheless, he is now getting more than his bargained share of attention with his recent grisly update. In a Facebook update, one can see Ecklund grinning next to a mountain lion’s corpse. Accompanying the bloodstained lion he killed are two of his beagles and other three other friends. While that picture attracted plenty of negative scrutinies, an even more graphic post, which had to be filtered due to its gruesome content, appeared later to demonstrate the animal’s heart laid bare and cut open.
A graphic picture of what appears to be the lion’s heart (Facebook)
A pro-hunting community often religiously defends Ecklund. However, he has no such support in the United Kingdom. Campaign group Hunt Saboteurs Association has actually termed his actions as ‘morally reprehensible’.
Hunt Saboteurs Association condemned Ecklund’s actions (Facebook)
PETA called Ecklund a ‘small person with deep-seated insecurities’ (Facebook)
Soon, PETA also stepped in to condemn Ecklund’s actions. Concerning 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.” (source)
A picture of Ecklund with the corpse of a deer (Facebook)
Nevertheless, Ecklund’s defenders, along with the defenders of ethical hunting have a different point of view. They’ll argue that the money raised from hunting helps aid conservation efforts. Ecklund is the host of a TV show called The Edge, the website of which names him as a ‘fair chase hunter.’ What that implies is that all the hunting Ecklund participates in is ‘ethical,’ and that all animal are ‘free-ranging,’ which means no gates or barriers confine them.
Ecklund posing with a ram (Facebook)
The website lists some of Ecklund’s achievements, such as winning the gold medal at the Canadian national 3D archery championships in 1999. It also describes hunting as Ecklund’s passion and his ‘motivational lifesaver,’ which refers to the fact that he has been recently diagnosed and treated for cancer.
The laws in Alberta insist that such hunters need to hold a recreational hunting license. They also state that it’s illegal to discharge a weapon at a big game animal while it’s swimming, have a dog to accompany you while hunting big game or allow your dog to pursue big game during the winter hunting season.
Picture of Ecklund posing with a black bear (Facebook)
While Ecklund’s posts usually attract some attention, it was his mountain lion kill post that people shared more than 2,000 times and almost 1,000 comments; some positive, but most of them negative. As 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.” (source)
Another picture from Ecklund’s Facebook showing him with a brown bear (Facebook)
On the other hand, a rare comment in his support read: “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.” (source)
Only a few of users’ comments were in support of Ecklund (Facebook)
Considering Ecklund’s actions were entirely legal, he won’t be reprimanded nor face any discipline. While it is totally within his rights to hunt, anyone would argue that he’d better not share some of the more distasteful images on Facebook.