‘I am proud to hunt’: Hunter defends killing giraffe in 2017

An American hunter who drew criticism last year after photos circulated showing her posing with the corpse of a rare, black giraffe she hunted has defended the kill in a recent interview.

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Tess Talley, of Kentucky, appeared on "CBS This Morning" Friday and said she's "absolutely" still hunting.

"It's a hobby, it's something that I love to do," she said.

The 2017 hunt in South Africa during which Talley killed the giraffe was a “conservation hunt,” she said, meaning it was designed to manage the amount of wildlife in the area.

"I am proud to hunt. And I am proud of that giraffe," she said. Talley said she made throw pillows and a gun case out of the giraffe, and that its meat was “delicious.”

Talley first posted the photos of herself and the giraffe in 2017 with the caption, "Prayers for my once in a lifetime dream hunt came true today! Spotted this rare black giraffe bull and stalked him for quite a while. I knew it was the one. He was over 18 years old, 4000 lbs. and was blessed to be able to get 2000 lbs. of meat from him," USA Today reported.

Backlash over the photos began last summer, when the South Africa-based AfricLand Post tweeted the photos with words condemning Talley for hunting the giraffe.

Talley said Friday that while she enjoys hunting, it can be emotionally difficult.

"Everybody thinks that the easiest part is pulling the trigger. And it's not," she said to CBS. "That's the hardest part. But you gain so much respect, and so much appreciation for that animal because you know what that animal is going through. They are put here for us. We harvest them, we eat them."

When speaking on conservation hunts, Talley was asked why she didn’t donate to nonlethal conservation efforts instead of hunting. Talley said she, "would rather do what I love to do, rather than just give a lump sum of cash somewhere and not know particularly where that is going."

In a statement to CBS News, Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, said Talley’s trophy hunting of the giraffe showed “sheer and arrogant disregard for the imperiled status of an iconic species."

“A 2015 estimate found that fewer than 100,000 giraffes remain in the wild in Africa, and our 2018 investigation revealed that nearly 4,000 giraffe-derived trophies were imported into the U.S. over the last decade. More than one giraffe is killed every day,” Block said.

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