After an 18 month wait, which cost her money, personal pain and aggravation, Sarasota huntress and angler Larysa Switlyk has finally been cleared of all wrongdoing by Scottish prosecutors.
Switlyk travels the world hunting and fishing and hosts the popular Larysa Unleashed.
In October 2018, Switlyk became the subject of extensive press and hostile social media coverage after legally hunting an invasive species of goat in Islay, Scotland.
Scotland has a long tradition of male hunters from overseas contributing millions of pounds to rural economies, but she became the focus of an online hate campaign to punish her for a variety of social crimes.
The Scottish press and social media condemned her for smiling, wearing makeup, and looking as though she was enjoying herself, while hunting. The Scottish prosecutors reacted to this and announced they were investigating Switlyk for alleged gun crimes.
To be clear, male hunters have culled the invasive goats for years without any backlash.
Following nearly 18 months of very negative publicity — which included death threats — Switlyk’s attorney received a letter from the Crown and Procurator Fiscal’s (Scotland’s Prosecutor’s) Office which said: “Following consideration of the facts and circumstances, and the available admissible evidence, the procurator fiscal instructed there should be no proceedings at this time.”
Switlyk maintained her innocence throughout this whole process and was always confident of being vindicated. At no stage did she commit a criminal offense and she was never charged with any wildlife offenses. She culled an invasive goat with all proper permits and licenses.
“I love hunting and the Scottish landscape. I went on a legal hunt, which I loved, and I was guided the whole time by Scottish experts. I was aware that the animals I hunted were the ones that the Scottish Government wanted culled to help preserve the landscape. I understand some people won’t ever like hunting, but we live in a democracy and I support freedom of speech,” Switlyk said in a statement. “What was most hurtful to me was that I was characterized as a cruel criminal. That is totally against all the values I hold dear. I have had to endure 18 months of online abuse and death threats. That has affected my health, my family’s health and my financial health. I am pleased that I have finally been vindicated. This day has been a long time coming.”
There is no doubt in my mind that Switlyk was targeted because she is American and an attractive female hunter.
That Scottish prosecutors would react to social media, rather than the facts and rule of law, says all you need to know about justice in Scotland, or the lack thereof.