The hunter who went viral for posing with a dead mountain lion says she and her family ate it and rely on hunting for meat

  • Hunter Franchesca Esplin went viral after posting a Facebook video of her hunting a mountain lion and a photo with its bloody corpse.
  • The pictures infuriated conservationists, with the head of one organisation calling it a “trophy hunt.”
  • Esplin told INSIDER that she’s a conservationist herself who hunts to keep the predator population down.
  • She also said she and her family ate the mountain lion, which she believes is more ethical to eat than factory-farmed animals and tastes “stronger than pork but is a lean white meat.”

The hunter who went viral for posing with the corpse of a mountain lion she killed is defending herself, telling INSIDER that she uses hunting for meat since it’s more ethical than factory farming.

Franchesca Esplin, the hunter, said that she’s more comfortable feeding her family meat she hunts herself, because the animals don’t have antibiotics or hormones injected into them.

“My family relies on that meat from hunting as a way to feed us,” Esplin told INSIDER. “We can’t always go to the store and buy meat where the animals were treated horribly and abused in feed lots.”

Mountain lion hunterFrancesca Elpin/FacebookFranchesca Esplin posted a photo of her bloody hands after handling a mountain lion she hunted.

Images of Esplin went viral in February when an animal conservation group, Prairie Protection Colorado, posted photos and a video from her Facebook page of her hunting a mountain lion and posing with its bloody corpse after killing it. Esplin had posted the photos and video to her own Facebook page after a hunt in December.

Deanna Meyer, the executive director of Prairie Protection Colorado, assailed it as a “trophy hunt” and said the photos were “pure psychopathic evil.”

Read more:
People are furious at a hunter for posing with a dead mountain lion in bloody Facebook photos

Esplin, though, said her hunting trip was legal, and that she killed the mountain lion because there are too many of them in the state of Colorado. In 2018, Colorado Parks and Wildlife planned to kill hundreds of mountain lions and black bears, saying they threaten the state’s environment, but conservation groups sued to stop the plan.

“Mountain lion is a little stronger than pork but is a lean white meat,” Esplin said. “Lots of people eat the meat from them, just like people eat the meat from a bear. [I] can’t even begin to think of eating bears, therefore I don’t hunt bears.”

Franchesca mountain lion huntFranchesca Esplin/FacebookEsplin after shooting down the mountain lion from a tree.

It’s legal to hunt mountain lions and bobcats in Colorado with a permit. Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which manages state parks,told a local news station it didn’t plan to investigate Esplin’s hunt.

Esplin told INSIDER that hunting is an important resource for her family of six. It’s an affordable way to get meat from animals that weren’t raised in factory farms, she said.

“Any hunting we do throughout seasons is for meat for our family. We can’t afford to always go to the store and buy steaks,” she said. “At least I know that the meat I get from hunting hasn’t been injected with steroids, hormones, and all that nasty junk.”

She also said that she considers herself a conservationist, and that “wildlife management” by killing predators is part of that. The state of Colorado regulates killing animals like mountain lions with quotas, and Esplin said she sticks to them.

“I’m a hunter and with that goes the several thousands of dollars [of value] that I’ve provided to the state to help with conservation efforts,” she said. “I do more for conservation than most.”

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