People in Johnson County are defending a local teenager whose pictures of an African hunt are stirring outrage on social media.
Kendall Jones, 19, of Cleburne, posted several pictures on her personal Facebook page from her recent hunt in Zimbabwe and South Africa, and the comments started coming in.
Now, there are online petitions to get the page taken down, and some people are even making death threats against the college student.
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But many others are quick to defend the teenager's African hunt.
“I don’t think anything is wrong with it. I mean, they go over there and they hunt. All the meat is donated to the villages,” said Carol Philpot, of Burleson.
“I think people just need to back off and give that lady a break," Dale Griggs said.
At Downing's Gun Store just off the square, friends of the family and others are rallying behind Jones.
“If it had been a 48-year-old man posting pictures, I don’t [feel] like he would have got the same death threats and the same response,” said Todd Downing, at Downing's Gun Store.
“Communities like this one do the same thing with deer and everything. They don’t just get to go to Africa,” said Cleburne native Kolby Russell.
The 19-year-old student at Texas Tech is working on a reality TV hunting show and says all her hunts in Africa were documented by a film crew.
In response to written questions sent by email, Jones says the show, "will also highlight conservation and hope to educate people and give them an understanding of how hunting and wildlife conservation go hand in hand."
“She’s a young girl enjoying her life, getting to do something that many dream of doing,” said Cleburne native Rachel Russell.
Due to the volume of media inquiries and comments from the public, the family released the following statement through a publicist Tuesday afternoon:
First and foremost, it’s imperative to make mention that all of Kendall's hunts in Zimbabwe and South Africa were 100% legal with proper tags and licenses awarded on a pre-approved quota by the countries officials and wildlife department.
Secondly, the tags, licenses, and fees purchased in addition to the services provided by local trackers, skinners, and assistants totaled over $160,000 USD, not including travel and/or production costs. In Zimbabwe, 70% of the country's population is classified as poor or extremely poor. This money can provide a great deal of stimulus for the local economies in addition to the estimated $200 million annually of which hunters contribute to the overall African economy. In the most rural areas, where many of these hunts take place, a majority of the people are unemployed and depend on bartering as a way of living. We're very proud of Kendall and Cody in not only helping to conserve these species for future generations, but also for helping contribute both money and jobs to an extremely poor area of Africa.
At this point, we are still on pace to air the content of Kendall's hunts in early 2015. With regards to the death threats Kendall has received from various members of activist organizations, we would simply ask that these folks consider if threatening to murder a human being for 100% legal behavior makes you worthy of the freedom to express your love for animals. Although our ideologies may be differ from those making threats, we, as a family, still have a profound respect for human life and the law.
Please direct any additional requests through Kendall's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kendalltakeswild.
Family, Friends, and Supporters of Kendall Jones