Former Rep. Joe Heck received criticism this week after he posted a picture on Instagram of himself posing next to a slain zebra with the caption, “Great start to safari — two off my list: Zebra and Black Wildebeast.”
But Heck’s apparent affinity for big-game hunting in South Africa didn’t just upset some in the public.
The former Nevada Senate candidate earned a lashing from an organization he lobbied on behalf of this spring: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Heck, who signed with Nevada-based lobbying firm RedRock Strategies after losing to Sen. Catherine Cortez-Masto in the state’s 2016 Senate race, registered in April to lobby for PETA on a bill, H.R. 1243, that would require the Department of Defense to replace live animal-based trauma care training with human-based training methods for military personnel.
PETA’s contract with RedRock ended in May, the animal rights organization said.
The bill has been stuck in the House Armed Services subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities since late March.
“Dr. Heck worked with PETA to end the stabbing and shooting of animals in cruel and archaic battlefield trauma training drills — a practice that’s on its way out. His expertise was valuable,” PETA senior vice president Lisa Lange said in a statement.
But Lange did not condone Heck's African safari hunt.
“He’s on the right side of this military issue, but the wrong side of despicable trophy hunting, in which magnificent animals are gunned down and which the American public despises,” she said.
A spokeswoman for PETA could not be reached for a follow-up question on whether the organization would hire Heck or RedRock in the future.
Based on their social media posts, Heck and his son, Joey, appear to be on a hunting expedition with the group Huntershill Safaris in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.
The former congressman could not be reached by email for this story.
His son defended their safari from criticism back home in a series of Twitter posts earlier this week.
“1. Hunters fund conservation far more than any ‘humane’ society; 2. The meat is donated back to the people who need it; 3. Humans have been hunting their entire existence,” Joey Heck tweeted Wednesday.
Since a lot of u like to subtweet from a private Twitter I’ll tweet and hope u see it :) 1. Hunters fund conservation far more than any “humane”’society 2. The meat is donated back to the people who need it 3. Humans have been hunting their entire existence— Joey Heck (@notjoeyheck) June 28, 2018
In a later tweet, the younger Heck added that if “you’re anti hunting that makes you ... anti giving food to the poor.”