If you're a fan of The National Geographic Channel on Twitter you likely saw this message yesterday at 2:47 PM:
Fans, The National Geographic Channel has carefully considered the public discussion of our series on surviving the wilds of Alaska currently in production and premiering sometime next year. Upon further reflection we plan to eliminate one of the survivalists from the ensemble cast, Melissa Bachman. Hunting is not the focus of the show, and we regret the misinformation that has clouded what we hope will be an exciting adventure series set in the incredible Alaskan landscape.
What could drive Nat Geo to make an announcement about a single member of an ensemble cast of a TV show that hasn't even aired? It's easy: A movement has begun on the web to attack and defame Melissa Bachman and hunters everywhere.
At the core of the opposition to Bachman — a lifelong hunter who has found great success in recent years as a outdoor TV producer, writer, personality and advocate for women in the field — was a petition started on Change.org. The site, which lets anyone post and promote a petition for change, has been a haven for anti-hunting groups in the past. This time, though, the petition was to, "Stop the Melissa Bachman show from broadcasting!" Conservationist Tim Martell, 42, started the call to remove Bachman Thursday and wrote a note attached to the petition that read in part:
Melissa is a heartless trophy hunter who has killed hundreds of animals without purpose. National Geographic should distance themselves from her.
Please sign this petition today and let National Geographic know that we do not support trophy killing. We will not watch the Nat Geo channel until they agree not to condone or support trophy killing by doing business with wildlife killer Melissa Bachman.
Nearly 14,000 people signed this petition.
Just as Bachman's detractors are accusing her of celebrating death, these same "activists" are dolling out death threats and personal attacks by the hundreds in every single place her likeness or name resides on the Web.
Her blog on PetersensHunting.com has been flooded with the same messages in opposition to "trophy hunting." Many cannot be reposted here, but here are a few examples:
A Facebook page entitled "National Georgraphic: NO to Melissa Bachman Series" has been one of the main drivers of this movement, posting links to all Bachman's stories and sending commenters to her pages. The result is not only death threats, but the need to shut down some of her personal and professional social media efforts due to the vulgar attacks. They celebrated and gloated when Nat Geo made their announcement Thursday.
If you've been following this trend, you can't be surprised by such a development. These same social media extremists started the Facebook page "Corey Cogdell Is Not Welcome In Africa," in which some less-than-civil criticism was levied against Cogdell and similar death threats followed. They attacked the Trump Brothers in the media for a completely legal and ethical hunt in Africa. Martin — who cannot be connected to the extremist death threats — launched a Facebook campaign against Rosie O'Donnell in December of last year following pictures that surfaced of a hammerhead shark she caught during a fishing trip.
This opposition to "trophy hunting" seems to only be gaining strength, and Martin's petition was closed and considered a victory in just over 24 hours. At this time, there has been no reaction from any pro-hunting organizations or media outlets.
There are an estimated 15.1 million hunters in this nation. According to the NRA, combined with fishing and trapping licenses and tax contributions, the sport's total contribution for 2000 was over $3.7 billion. That has only risen as of late, as has the numbers of hunters in this nation according to a study conducted by the U.S. of Fish & Wildlife Service.
Melissa Bachman is a lifelong hunter who began hunting at an early age with her family. She graduated with honors and a double major in TV broadcasting and Spanish from St. Cloud State University, shortly after starting her career as a TV intern. Since then, her hunting prowess has been celebrated across the outdoor industry.
Chris Albert, Senior Vice President of Communications and Talent Relations for National Geographic, was reached earlier today and would not comment further than the earlier statement.
At press time, a message sent to the founder of the "National Georgraphic: NO to Melissa Bachman Series" was not returned.