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Task force established to combat online attacks on hunters

| Monday, Aug. 4, 2014, 9:36 p.m.

Social media has become a battleground for hunters and those who dislike them and what they do.

That has prompted something new.

The U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance and other sportsmen's organizations have formed a “Hunter Advancement Task Force” to deal specifically with social media attacks on hunters and hunting.

“The task force is not only working to stop direct attacks on hunters but also discussing how best to educate the public on the vital role sportsmen play in the conservation of all wildlife,” said Alliance president and CEO Nick Pinizzotto, an Indiana County native.

The task force has come about because of a recent wave of “cyber attacks.”

Last fall, TV personality and archer Melissa Bachman received death threats after she posed with a photo of a lion she killed. Anti-hunters showed up at her office, she said.

Last month, a Texas teenager, Kendall Jones, similarly was attacked on social media after posting photos to Facebook of her with some of the game she had taken on an African safari. Last spring, a Colorado woman who shot a mountain lion in her home state was harassed online, with threats against her and her family reported.

Until now, sportsmen have been responding. The task force is meant to be proactive, Pinizzotto said. Additional meetings are planned to develop short and long-range strategies to protect hunters from cyber harassment.

“In the short term, we are developing aggressive legal approaches to pursue both civil and criminal legal actions to prosecute anti-hunting harassers.” said Bill Horn, the Alliance director of federal affairs. “In the long term, we would like to cultivate strategies to provide additional legal protections for hunters who are finding themselves the target of cyber bullying.”

Involved with the Task Force are the National Wild Turkey Federation, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Boone and Crockett Club, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and others.

Bob Frye is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at bfrye@tribweb.com or via Twitter @bobfryeoutdoors.

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