Animal culling laws to be reviewed after Islay hunting trip outrage

Big game specialist Larysa Switlyk has posted pictures of herself and clients posing with animals killed on a trip to Islay. Picture: Contributed
Big game specialist Larysa Switlyk has posted pictures of herself and clients posing with animals killed on a trip to Islay. Picture: Contributed
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An American trophy hunter and reality TV star has caused outrage after shooting wild goats and other animals on the isle of Islay and posting the pictures on social media.

Larysa Switlyk, a “pro huntress” who works as a big game specialist with Detail Company Adventures, has sparked a backlash after publishing photographs of herself and clients posing with dead animals slain during a hunting trip on the Argyll island.

We should be positioning Scotland as a destination for ecotourism rather than chasing the custom of wealthy hunters who enjoy killing animals

Mark Ruskell

As well as feral goats, the camouflage-clad shooters also killed stags and sheep.

In one Instagram post on her Larysa Unleashed account, Ms Switlyk posted a picture of a dead feral goat alongside the message: “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).”

The Scottish Government is now set to review the law around animal culling.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Totally understandable why the images from Islay of dead animals being held up as trophies is so upsetting and offensive to people.

“@scotgov will review the current situation and consider whether changes to the law are required.”

Local MSP and Brexit Secretary Mike Russell said: “The pictures are horrific. Obviously deer culling and deer stalking is established on the island and it’s a necessary thing to do considering the lack of control of deer numbers.

“But to see people in camouflage with highly powered sniper rifles rejoicing at the killing of a goat, let alone a ram, is simply unacceptable.

“The vast majority of people would just not regard this as something that should be happening in their country.

“There has been something of an outcry already about it and as a local MSP I have now raised it with the environment minister because I think it’s really undesirable and unpleasant.”
Larysa Unleashed sees the self-titled “hardcore huntress” travel the world to shoot animals and “encouraging youth and female involvement”.

The Detail Company offers “dream trips” for clients, promising the chance to “kill it, catch it or film it”.

The Islay hunt was organised through a sporting estate on the island, but the images prompted an outpouring of fury from members of the public and celebrities, with many demanding a ban on such hunts. 
Environment spokesman Mark Ruskell said: “We should be positioning Scotland as a world-leading destination for ecotourism rather than chasing after the custom of a small cabal of wealthy hunters who take pleasure from killing animals.”

Sarah Moyes, campaigner for OneKind which campaigns against animal cruelty, said: “It’s utterly shocking to see these images of Larysa Switlyk and other hunters posing for photos with the wild animals they killed on a recent trip to Scotland.

But the Scottish Gamekeepers Association, whose members do not participate in goat hunting, said culls of grazing animals are carried out to prevent damage to woodlands and protected sites.

Chairman Alex Hogg said: “If paying visitors are coming to Scotland to do a job that would have been done anyway, and are spending in local communities whilst doing so, then calling for immediate bans may be a knee-jerk reaction.”