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Did PETA finally go too far?

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The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have been known to push the limits as an activist group in the past. Advertising campaigns featuring young actresses and models in the nude in protest of furs, billboards, saying all people are Nazis to animals with photos of Jews in concentration camps across a hall from chickens in pens, or Photoshopped models hanging from meat hooks covered in blood beside pig carcasses all drew the ire of vast majorities of people.

Don’t get me wrong, they also brought in funds to the non-profit group from the vegan movement and animal lovers as well. But this time, maybe PETA went too far.

Just as President Trump brings both attention and criticism due to 280 characters or less coming across social media platforms, in particular Twitter, PETA has brought anger upon itself due to a misguided tweet.

A few weeks ago, on the late Steve Irwin’s birthday, PETA made mention of the well-respected and loved Crocodile Hunter.

You see, Irwin wasn’t a real crocodile hunter. But he was a huge conservationist that loved crocodiles and all other animals. From his familiar catch word, Crickey, to his passionate and informational lectures while interacting with all kinds of reptiles, serpents and even furry beasts, Irwin was this generation’s Jim Fowler of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom fame.

Now, his family, consisting of his wife and two children, have taken up the mantle to educate the world about the inhabitants that share the planet with us. And just as Steve was well-loved, his family is equally adored.

But PETA stepped in it.

#SteveIrwin was killed while harassing a ray; he dangled his baby while feeding a crocodile and wrestled wild animals who were minding their own business. Today’s #GoogleDoodle sends a dangerous, fawning message. Wild animals are entitled to be left alone in their natural habitats.

Yes, PETA insisted Irwin was rightfully killed while harassing a stingray as well as participating in other questionable acts. From that tweet, the world had had enough. Not of Steve Irwin mind you, but of PETA.

A huge backlash from those that could all of a sudden see through the cloud of misinformation from PETA began, and it was extensive. Long-time supporters of PETA who had set up monthly funding towards the group voiced their displeasure, cancelling all future transactions.

Celebrities made it clear that PETA was in the wrong on their own large social media followings. The average person read headline after headline, and witnessed news story after news story regarding PETA’s summation.

I don’t even need to state how the outdoors community reacted. Hunters Against PETA lambasted the polar opposite activist group. Conservative groups explained what Steve Irwin and his legacy was and is really about, exposing PETAs attempt at misleading the general public.

When the backlash hit a fevered pitch, one would expect PETA to either remain quiet or issue a toned-down response. Instead, PETA doubled down on its belief.

Steve Irwin’s actions were not on target with his supposed message of protecting wildlife. A real wildlife expert and someone who respects animals for the individuals they are leaves them to their own business in their natural homes.

Overall, people began to see PETA differently afterwards, some suggesting PETA pretends to love animals — but secretly hates all creatures. While the saying goes ‘there is no such thing as bad press,’ this time, it may prove differently.

Bill Howard is an avid bowhunter and outdoorsman. He teaches hunter education (IHEA) and bowhunter education (IBEP) in North Carolina. He is a member of North Carolina Bowhunters Association and Pope & Young, and is an official measurer for both.