American Trophy Hunter Triggers Controversy After Shooting Protected Goat In Pakistan


As many of you know, I am no fan of such trophy hunts.  I often hike in remote spots to see bears and other animals in their natural habitat. We have previously followed the controversy over the shooting of “Cecil the Lion” by an American dentist Walter Palmer from Minnesota as well as  subsequent controversies of an Idaho hunter taunting animal advocates and killing giant elephants or giraffes  or famed wolves for trophies. Now, American trophy hunter Bryan Kinsel Harlan, an entrepreneur from Texas, has triggered an outcry in Pakistan after paying over $100,000 for the joy of shooting a rare mountain goat (a national symbol of Pakistan).

I cannot understand the joy of killing one of these animals or the challenge of shooting them with a high-powered rifle.  I seek out these animals and take pictures with the same ease it would be to kill them.  Yet, many feel a tremendous release in killing these animals and posing with their dead bodies. As I have previously stated, as an avid hiker, I often go many miles to see such animals in their natural habitat. The idea of then pulling out a rifle to kill one of them is as foreign a notion for me as would be cutting a painting out of its frame at a museum to possess it. 

The markhor is a magnificent species of wild goat with long hair and spiralled horns. It is a protected species in Pakistan but Harlan paid for the thrill of killing one in the Sassi-Harmosh community conservation area in Sassi village of Gilgit. Harlan went up a hill and shot a mountain goat with a high-powered rifle and then bragged about it. He said “it was an easy and close shot and I am pleased to take this trophy.” I bet it was. It was a mountain goat grazing when he blew it away for the thrill kill.

The video shows Harlan being helped up the mountain by numerous guides and then positioned to shoot the goat. He then expresses joy at the rather unimpressive act of shooting a grazing animal.

There is of course nothing illegal in what Harlan did. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helped trophy hunters return with these animals by changing their status from endangered to threatened. Pakistan has an awful record on such hunts. We previously discussed how officials allowed Saudi princes to massacre rare birds in such a hunt.

As a result, the markhor populace had rebounded enough by 2015 that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature upgraded the species from endangered to “near-threatened.” According to the conservationist website Green Global Travel, the comeback of the markhor is “one of the world’s great but little known conservation success stories.”

The money raised from trophy hunters goes to the locals. I can understand their interest in getting a huge amount of money. I just do not understand the joy on Harlan’s face like he just accomplished something by pulling a trigger from a safe distance from a goat. However, I watched this video repeatedly to try to understand the thrill in killing such a defenseless animal.

64 thoughts on “American Trophy Hunter Triggers Controversy After Shooting Protected Goat In Pakistan”

  1. The goat is beautiful, and I much prefer him alive to dead. Old goat tastes terrible, or so I’ve been told, so I don’t see the benefit to killing him.

    Trophy hunting is not for me. I love bagging good photographs.

    That said, you wrote a key sentence here: “The money raised from trophy hunters goes to the locals.” Environmentalism is the purview of the wealthy countries. Only when you have enough food in your belly, confident of all future meals, do you have the resources to spend on environmental programs and endangered species. Up until that point, you might mourn the loss of animals, but it’s good money. This is why trophy hunting is supported in the host countries. It is life changing money for local villages. Poor people in America, unless they are homeless drug addicts, live by a standard that would be considered upper middle class in many countries of the world.

    Not all locales are the same. Many want the money that bored trophy hunters will pay them for the animals they see every day in their backyards. Other villages resent international tourists who take their animals while the government gets their fees. It depends on the system.

    While I abhor trophy hunting in general, and prefer hunting to put food on the table, I am mindful that this is critical funding for impoverished people. I’ve traveled to third world countries. If you were to ban trophy hunting, those in wealthy Western nations would be proud, but those who lost the income might have trouble feeding their kids. It’s just not a straightforward issue. I worry about the people impacted should this practice end.

    I would also like to point out that it is not typically American trophy hunters who hunt endangered species to extinction. Asian buyers are responsible for a great deal of poaching and devastation to bird and animal populations. There are indeed some American poachers, but there is no intense cultural drive to spend millions of dollars on powdered rhino horn or tiger parts.

    If an American engages in a legal trophy hunt, we might all mourn the senseless loss, or debate about subsistence hunting. But it’s the illegal poaching trade, or, as mentioned, the thoughtless, reckless rampages of Saudi royals through local fauna that causes lasting damage.

    1. One of the more difficult local hunting wars going in is in regards to wolves and coyotes. They have been viewed as vermin for generations by ranchers and farmers, and are often shot on sight. The average age of a coyote around where I live has been calculated to be 2 years. I recall finding a beautiful young female I’d watched grow from a pup hanging dead on my fence rail. She’d been shot and tried to get back home, but didn’t make it. Many are so weakened by rat poison that they get mange and die.

      Ranchers and farmers loses calves, chickens, goats, and geese, and homeowners lose cats and small dogs. People let their cats out at night and then blame the coyotes who eat them. Well meaning people feed them scraps and dog food, which emboldens them to try to deliberately try to frighten food out of people. The losses matter. But when we remove coyotes from the environment, we get up to our ears in the ground squirrels, rabbits, rats, and mice that they used to eat. Then people put out poison, which harms raptors, bobcats, cougars…People’s concerns need to be taken seriously and with compassion, while at the same time looking for solutions to coexisting with wildlife.

      Upset the food web, and you get a tangled mess.

      1. Michael:

        I am well aware of the corruption in Africa. That is why I said, “Not all locales are the same. Many want the money that bored trophy hunters will pay them for the animals they see every day in their backyards. Other villages resent international tourists who take their animals while the government gets their fees. It depends on the system.”

        We give trillions of dollars to corrupt nations, many of whom are in Africa. Africa is also unstable due to its constant conflict and the vicious rebels who force children to fight. The leaders are corrupt. The rebels are corrupt. The people starve. We still give money. Oftentimes hunters donate bushmeat directly to the villages. Look at Venezuela. Extremely corrupt, obviously, as it’s Socialist. The people are starving. I want to feed all of those people, and would find a way to cut out the government entirely. The government, meanwhile, has blockaded the airports to prevent the shipment of humanitarian supplies like food, water, and medicine.

        This hunt was in Pakistan, not Africa. As I mentioned, the amount that goes to the locals depends upon the location. There are also a lot of conservation efforts in Africa that are directly funded by hunting, while at the same time, there are those who claim conservation that are actually game breeders for canned hunts.

        I think the goat was beautiful. As its meat was likely tough, I see no reason to kill it. I’d rather photograph it. The law allows trophy hunting, both here and abroad. It is true that harassing trophy hunters is in a sense saying it’s unfair that he followed the law. If you don’t like the law, then work to change it, rather than blame people who follow it. I also do not know if there was any genetic reason to cull this particular animal. Sometimes when an animal is past his breeding prime, has lost his ewes, he is sometimes culled. Or he could have been in his prime and cut short. With low population animals, it is important not to interfere with the evolutionary process where prime animals contribute their genes. A concern is when animals with the evolutionary advantage of fitness, health, savvy, and strong genes get culled while lesser animals fill their place. That can happen when the animal with the best horns or racks gets targeted, allowing younger bucks to fill the void who have not yet earned their place.

      2. Thousands of visitors pay millions of dollars, annually, to go to natural history museums to see exotic, dead, stuffed animals or their bones. We have a fascination for seeing the remains of amazing animals up close. There is a thrill to see dinosaur bones in person, to experience their enormity, and imagine them walking in life.

        I imagine that trophy hunters seek that experience, in their homes, among their collections. They want to stroke the tiger’s fur and touch the polar bear’s tooth.

        I always find taxidermy specimens sad, especially the young ones. And yet, I regularly visit natural history museums.

        All of us visitors might not have killed the animals we pay to enjoy viewing, but we might feel a similar fascination with them. They are enjoying the fruits of the efforts of hunters, most likely. I watch wildlife documentaries, and galleries of wildlife photography, and I also see taxidermy specimens.

        Trophy hunting is not for me. I’m just saying that the fascination with getting up close to a stuffed specimen you could never approach in the wild is a common one.

  2. I think I’m reasonably intelligent but I’m afraid the thrill escapes me… I just don’t get it I guess.

  3. It was a legal hunt sanctioned by the government, probably to collect more money. I imagine there are some left leaning politicians in this country who would grant permits for shooting bald eagles if it put more cash into their Progressive programs and their progressive pockets.

    Too bad for the goat–probably tough meat and doesn’t taste good–but it is a plus that the animal is so important to the people of such a miserable, intolerant, violent country. What does the Koran say about killing goats?

  4. and from Psalm 58 another favorite of mine, this one, ironically enough, alludes both to stillbirth and to bending the bow, and also again to wading in the blood of the wicked:

    …Yes, in heart you work wickedness; you weigh the violence of your hands in the earth.

    3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.

    4 Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that stops her ear;

    5 Which will not listen to the voice of charmers, charming never so wisely.

    6 Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O LORD.

    7 Let them melt away as waters which run continually: when he bends his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be as cut in pieces.

    8 As a snail which melts, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.

    9 Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath.

    10 The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.

  5. “There is of course nothing illegal in what Harlan did.”

    Why not? Why are lawyers and activists not mounting a bill to stop this practice?

    I am not against hunting but why hunt rares? Why hunt endangered? Why would that give anyone a thrill?
    And shooting an animal that’s just standing there munching grass?

    That is totally puke-worthy…..there’s a ‘man’ I would hope never to meet.

  6. Wait!

    Goats are protected in Pakistan but babies are aborted (i.e. murdered) in America?

    That dudn’t make any sense!

  7. An American, any American hunting in Gilgit-Baltistan province is dicing with death by his mere presence in one of the more unsettled frontier areas of Pakistan. I’m surprised he survived the hunt without being ambushed himself.

    That said, Mr. Harlan is unremarkable as hunters go, and hunting is much less heinous than that Jeffrey Epstein did for fun in his walled compound, not infrequently in the company of Bill Clinton.

    I reserve my outrage for those who, for amusement, sexually abuses the helpless. When we’ve done our best to elminate human trafficking, we can start on big game hunters.

  8. I seek out these animals and take pictures with the same ease it would be to kill them.

    I bet this hunter doesn’t understand why Turley is passing judgment on a hunting passion that also contributes to the local economy, while Turley’s hiking/photography passion has required a helicopter evacuation at the taxpayer’s expense.

  9. When the goat killer dies and gets his interview at the Pearly Gates there will be a stand-in for Saint Peter. It will be a goat. The trophy hunter will get sent to Hell in a handbasket. His balls will be cut off and posted on the trophy wall at the Pearly Gates.

  10. Vetted social media helps my feet vote in the market place. With all other things being equal, I will refrain from a company that has a decision maker that thrills to kill. While my purchase, more often than not makes no difference to the company, The unified voices that think the same can. Watch Chris Prat implode as the public finds out gets a thrill (actually uses the word) when he kills and talks to what he thinks is his base. The internet never forgets.

  11. One of the advantages of having your own bully pulpit, Professor Turley, is you get to post whatever you wish–even when it’s clearly overreach. By your less than logical “logic,” you like, so others should like; you do, so others should do; you don’t like, so others shouldn’t like; and you don’t do, so others shouldn’t do. The biggest concept that represents is your arrogance, not your brilliance.

    Also, writing, in a single sentence, about a goat in Pakistan begs for an outpouring of tasteless memes. Wait for them in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . boom!

    1. Bingo. I personally wouldn’t engage in that type of hunting, but I’m sure not going to pass holier-than-thou judgment on those that do.

  12. While I’m not anti hunting,I definitely think people should think about what they are doing before they do it.

      1. It doesn’t matter what’s legal and what’s not. If the mob decides that the hunter offended The Prophet because Mohammed liked goats, the hunter will be promptly beheaded. And good riddance to him…..

        1. It doesn’t matter what’s legal and what’s not. If the mob decides…And good riddance to him…..

          Good to know where you stand on the rule of law.

  13. In summary,

    Governor Ralph “I got me some black face” Northam has never known an infant he refrain from sucking her brains post delivery, and Lt Gov Justin “phqq that beaxh” Fairfax thinks forcing a woman to have sex is A. OK, with Democrats dancing all the way, but have a guy hunt an animal for sport, and all hell breaks out in their little bubble.

    “If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” he continued. “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

    Forget the russians, nod to Mueller’s non-report.
    We are being overrun by Nazis like Northam, Cuomo, Ocasio Cortes and on and on and on

  14. Please don’t tell Donnie Jr. For a 100,000 bucks he’ll have pakistani’s shooting American bald eagles.

    1. Bald Eagles have made a big comeback. I have seen one closely when I was driving. They are now prolific here in parts of the midwest.

      1. That’s good news, sad to see them eating from piles of trash in Alaska. Friends tell me that they can flock like seagulls after ya throw chum in the air.

        1. they like carrion. the one I saw was snatching roadkill. seagulls do too but why bother with roadkill when you can raid dumpsters. anyhow from what i read, they are more solitary and don’t flock like seagulls as far as I have seen. seagulls are like pigeons that way.

          i would not shoot a bald eagle but i have shot a lot of crows when i was a kid once on a cousin’s farm, and I have shot at pheasants but they always get away.

          1. Bald eagles are bald for a reason. They are carrion birds, just like buzzards, vultures, etc.

  15. I dig shooting at pheasants even though I can’t seem to bag any on a couple outings. Not sure it would be the same for a goat. I doubt I would travel to Pakistan for any reason, ever.

    This book has some good stories of hunting the big three. Cape Buffallo is the most dangerous game supposedly.

    Capstick also wrote great hunting stories. And Hemingway.

    1. Hemingway would be classified as a ‘deplorable’ human being in today’s PC world. So would Teddy Roosevelt.


    2. O.K. Mr. Special K: being led to a grazing animal that lives in a remote location and shooting it isn’t “hunting”, any more than those dumbass losers in your home state of Indiana who shoot deer with unusual antlers that have been herded into a caged area where they can be picked off. While one could argue that “hunting” is a sport–i.e. involving tracking skills, strategy in locating an animal before it can escape, and calculating distance and accurately aiming and discharging a weapon, what you have here is the pathetic need to kill solely for the thrill. There isn’t any need to engage in hunting for sport any more. Why not just target shoot? We have plenty of food. We have too many people and too little terrain for wild creatures to thrive. There’s just plain something wrong with people who need to kill a sentient creature and who obtain pleasure from doing so, including increased pleasure from killing a creature that is rare, as if this is some badge of honor. Mostly this is engaged in by stupid, insensitive men, but there is the occasional bottle blondie who does it as well. They think people admire them when they pose with the dead creatures they killed, just like Trump thinks people look at him and see a fit man with a full head of natural hair worthy of the title of POTUS. They are all delusional.

  16. Good Professor Turley

    I understand that you cannot understand why others would derive pleasure out from sport hunting but who are YOU to impose your morality on others?

    Isn’t this the same retort libs tell pro-lifers?

    As long as an animal species is not over hunted and done responsibility, what is wrong with the practice?

    And all said while eating prime rib or a McDonald’s Big Mac.

    Don’t you just love liberal tolerance and double standards?


    1. JT isn’t “imposing” his morality on anyone. He’s expressing his opinion. There’s a big difference between the two. Give it some thought.

      1. JT

        I believe the ripping of a full term fetus out of its mother’s womb is murder. IS that only ‘expressing’ my opinion or does that make me a deplorable, intolerant human being? Most leftists would say the latter.


        1. I have fallen away from the practice of Christianity. Now I don’t love my enemies quite so much anymore.

          For example. I think the average New Yorker, probably ok with them getting abortions. Let them. In fact let them sterilize themselves while they are at it.

          I am betting the kind of folks I identify with more say in upstate New York, by comparison, will probably not elect to do certain things even if they are legal.

          I am thinking more “Old Testament” style these days, ya know?

          Here’s todays reading from Psalms 68. In which we pray the blood of The Lord’s enemies will stain our shoes and our dogs will lick up their blood.

          22 The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea:

          23 That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in the same.

    2. >what is wrong with the practice?
      Nothing at all if killing other sentient beings sends a thrill up your leg.

      1. @acromion

        Who are you to impose your values on me? How dare you!

        I bet you have moral objections to abortion and are a vegetarian.


    3. Those who refer to “sport hunting” realize that admitting that they enjoy killing is morally reprehensible. Labeling it “sport” or “hunting” or both doesn’t fool anyone. Everyone knows you enjoy killing.

      1. @sam

        Wouldn’t say I “enjoy” killing but I do enjoy venison and beef.


      2. Why is it morally reprehensible? I think you are actually saying you do not like it, and I cannot argue with that, but what is morally good and morally reprehensible are very difficult to define. Some crimes, malum in se, seem inherently wrong and deserving of punishment, but not in every instance. We have gone from the notion that killing a person who has committed no offense is self-evidently wrong to the point where we excuse the killing of the very ill and/or elderly and the killing of newborns. Our country is slipping deeper into dangerous waters. I do wonder, what happened to the rights inherently possessed by every citizen when a newly born child (citizen) can be aborted. When do the rights to life, liberty and happiness kick in after birth? After five minutes? Thirty minutes? A couple of years? And it is odd to think that those ‘celebrating’ abortion after birth are often staunch opponents of implementing the death penalty on a sadistic murderer. Instead of ‘execution’ of a criminal we can simply call it a ‘late term abortion’ and everything will be fine. Worry less about someone shooting a goat in Pakistan. We have bigger problems.

    4. Not a double standard at all. Pork, cattle and poultry are raised as human food and are humanely killed. These are wild creatures, existing in what is left of wilderness that humankind hasn’t taken over or polluted past the point of sustaining life, which are killed solely to appeal to some seemingly testicular need to kill solely for the so-called pleasure of killing. It’s sort of like Epstein’s Lolilta Island with underage girls. Conquest without any challenge proves what a big man you are–right? It’s the pleasure of killing a creature that does not pose any threat to the killer that is the issue. It’s the insensitivity and ego need not only to kill but to boast about it by posing for photos with the creature that was killed and the weapon used. And yes, the rest of us who live on earth do have a stake in this issue, especially when a creature whose species is threatened with extinction is involved. How pathetic it is that people like the loser pictured at the head of this piece thinks he has done something admirable by killing a rare beast after being led to its grazing grounds where it could be picked off. How pathetic it is that this practice is defended on the grounds that the people living nearby need money so they lead losers like him to the killing field just so they can survive.

      The dodo bird is extinct now because of the Victorian practice of walking up and clubbing to death these birds, who didn’t flee because they had no fear of people. Expeditions were actually led to the island where these birds lived, so the stupid losers who paid for the pleasure could club these birds to death solely for the pleasure of doing so. It’s like clubbing to death baby seals simply because you can. This is the very definition of inhumane.

      1. @natacha

        Not a sport hunter but I am pro-choice about people such as this “loser” having a right to do so.

        What’s the difference, you’re probably pro-choice about ripping an 8 month old fetus from its mother’s body and think it’s ok.

        Actually I am a deer hunter but consume or donate what I kill. And yes, I enjoy deer hunting. And don’t give a flying f@@k about whether you or other SJW’s approve.


      2. Like it or not, killing is a very human trait. Doubt we would have lasted if we had not developed a taste for it and a taste for many of the things we killed.

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