After an 18-year-old Ontonagon woman posted a picture on Facebook of a bear she killed while hunting, the woman says she was immediately attacked online by activists and others.
Audrey Niemi was bear hunting with her father on September 20 when she shot and killed a bear.
"He came from my left and I watched him for a little bit. I asked my dad if I should shoot him and he said yes. So, I put the gun up and I knew he wasn't a cub; there was no mom around. He was by himself," said Audrey Niemi.
Once Niemi posted a picture of her and the bear on her Facebook page, she says there was an immediate backlash from people all over the world including animal activists who claimed she killed a bear cub.
Niemi also says there were a number of hurtful comments which caused her to deactivate her account.
"There was some that said, 'I hope her future children get killed so she knows what it feels like.' There was just, 'I hope she gets in a hunting accident,'" Niemi explains.
Niemi says the torment continued and she even received phone calls at work. One Facebook group even tried to find out where she lived.
"It made me feel nervous at first, like someone was going to come after me, my friends or my family," Niemi added.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, it's illegal to kill bear cubs and female bears with cubs. Cubs have smaller heads, making the ears look bigger. The nose will look long and narrow.
Yearlings and young adults are legal.
In a written statement, the DNR says, "Although it is impossible to know for sure without examining the teeth, from what is shown in the photo, DNR wildlife biologists say Niemi's bear does not appear to be a cub and would, therefore, be a legal target."
As required by law, the bear was registered and found old enough. Audrey and her family say the comments were out of line for a bear she could legally shoot. The Niemi family commonly hunt for food and not sport.
"There's no reason; just because you dislike somebody's beliefs or actions or anything like that, to go to a level of threatening someone," said Jesse Niemi, Audrey's father.
"When you volunteer information online, you don't have rights as to who gets it and where they bring it," said Adam Niemi, Audrey's brother.
The family has reached out to those who shared the picture and asked them to take it down with the hope that the harassing comments will come to an end.